Canada is making significant strides in the field of low-carbon electricity generation, already deriving over 80% of its power from clean sources in 2022. Hydropower leads the pack, contributing to more than half the nation's electricity, followed by nuclear energy at about 13%, and the rest comes from wind, biofuels, and solar - all with less than 10% contribution. However, fossil-based power, producing 17% of the country's electricity, still retains a considerable share. The next challenge lays in electrifying other sectors such as transport, heating and industry, which will require an increase in electricity production, ideally leaning heavily on low-carbon generators. Canada operates in a largely self-sufficient electricity market, neither importing nor exporting electrical power.
Given the ongoing concern about global warming and climate change, there's substantial room for growth in the low-carbon electricity field, particularly within the nuclear sector. By expanding existing nuclear plants, Canada can harness a cleaner, more efficient power supply much like Sweden and France, where nuclear energy generates approximately 559 and 526 watts per person, respectively. Canada could also benefit by driving up investments in wind energy development, given its vast space and strong wind potential, looking at countries like Denmark and Sweden that generate 369 and 363 watts per person respectively through wind power. Substantial opportunities can also be observed in solar power development, where countries like Australia lead the way with 147 watts per person.
Canada's commitment to low-carbon electricity extends back decades. In the last years of the 20th century, hydropower saw remarkable growth, with significant boosts in generation in 1978, 1981, 1984 and 1985. However, there were equally dramatic drops, particularly in 1989 and 1998. In contrast, the early 1990s saw an impressive uptick in nuclear power generation, with over a decade of steady annual increases from 1991 through 1994 and continuing in 2004. Hydrogeneration witnessed a staggered but steady growth throughout the 2000s in spite of recurring dips. Even with the significant decline in hydropower in 2010, a substantial rebound was achieved in 2011. Ringing into the 21st century, these past trends underline the need for ongoing expansion and reliability in low-carbon energy generation.