2.5 Electricity generation

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Hydroelectricity accounts for almost 60% of all the electricity generated across the country (Figure 2.1). When other renewable sources are added, the total share of renewable electricity generation is 64.8%. Almost all the rest is provided by nuclear (15.1%), natural gas (10.2%) and coal (7.0%).

Figure 2.2 – Electricity generation by source (utilities and industrial) #

Source: Statistics Canada 2021d, 2021e

Over the past decade, coal posted the largest decrease of all energy sources, dropping by 41.9% from 2009 to 2019 and losing a 5.9% share of total generation. This decline was mainly the result of Ontario’s phase-out, which was completed in 2014. At the same time, the largest net increase in electricity production came from wind-based generation. The contribution of wind energy was multiplied by five and reached 5% of total generation in 2019 (from 1% of the total share in 2009). This rapid expansion was due to nation-wide support policies. Natural gas also increased its share of the total by 3.3 percentage points.

Table 2.4 shows the share of public utility ownership of installed capacity for different electricity sources. Between 2007 and 2017, the share of public ownership in the electricity sector fell from 73.5% to 64.3% overall. Although the increase in wind and solar energy installed capacity explains a large part of this change, it also stems from the diminishing role of public actors in thermal generation (apart from nuclear). Indeed, public utilities’ share of installed thermal capacity decreased from 52.7% to 36.3% between 2007 and 2017, caused by the phase-out of coal and the growing role of private natural gas facilities.

In 2017, 64.3% of installed capacity was in public hands, largely owing to the dominance of public utilities, which own 87.5% of the total installed capacity in hydroelectricity, the main electricity source across the country, as well as 54.8 % of nuclear generation. Less than half of the installed capacity of all other sources is in the hands of public actors. Similarly, public utilities control only 10.6 % of wind energy installed capacity, which has been the fastest growing source in recent years.

Table 2.4 – Share of public ownership in installed capacity by source (2017) #

Source: Statistics Canada 2021f.