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Canadian Wind, Solar Boost Market Share Tenfold in a Decade—to 6%

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The market share of power generation from wind turbines and solar panels in Canada’s electricity mix has jumped tenfold in the past decade—from a starting point that was less than a percentage point in 2010.

Wind generated 36.3 terawatt-hours (TWh, or million million watts) in 2020, up from 3.7 TWh in 2010, while solar generated 2.6 TWh last year with no output reported for that technology in 2010. Combined, the two renewable energy technologies were responsible for 0.6% of all electricity output across Canada in 2010, growing to 6.1% last year. 

The data are contained in the latest edition of Statistics Canada’s report on monthly electric power generation by generation type. Table 25-10-0015-01 covers the period from 2008 to the end of 2020.

Nation-wide output of electricity from all sources last year totalled 635.6 TWh, with hydropower the largest contributor at 60.2% (382.7 TWh), followed by “combustible fuels” at 19.1% (121.3 TWh) and nuclear at 14.6% (92.7 TWh). Combustible fuel is an aggregate that includes fossil gas, coal, petroleum, biomass, methane, and municipal waste. 

Tidal power generated 19,525 MWh in 2018, but that output dropped by half in 2019 and ceased completely last year as the country’s one facility on the Bay of Fundy was closed. 

Statistics Canada recently expanded its coverage of renewable energy sources, and the agency cautions that data may not be historically comparable due to significant changes in reported wind generation from British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, and Prince Edward Island, and significant changes to solar from Ontario. Prior to 2008, wind and tidal had been grouped together with hydraulic output. 

While total electricity output fell 0.8% from 2019 to 2020, wind reported growth of 10.5% and solar rose 4.9%. Hydroelectric facilities increased their output by 1.3%, while nuclear declined 3% and generation from combustible fuels dropped 8%. 

The sources of electricity var7 widely among the provinces. Nuclear generated 56.6% of Ontario’s electricity last year while wind contributed 8.2%. In Alberta, the largest power source was combustible fuels at 89.7%, while solar accounted for only 0.03% of the province’s electricity.

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