- GlobalData fears Canada to have a shortfall of 48.4 GW renewable energy capacity by 2035, impeding its chances to have a 100% clean electricity system
- It continues to remain dependent on thermal power plants and faces challenges to policy continuity at provincial level to switch to renewables
- Country should accelerate the installation of renewables and also convert thermal power plants into clean energy facilities
Canada has enough land to install an annual average of 6.1 GW renewable energy capacity, mainly wind and solar PV, between 2021 and 2035 to reach 100% net zero emitting electricity system by 2035, but with 2.6 GW being installed now it may have a shortfall of 48.4 GW cumulatively, according to GlobalData.
The biggest challenge Canada faces in the achievement of its 2035 target is its dependence on gas-based plants, as the government isn’t able to resist the use of natural gas and oil. It is even planning to increase gas-based plants capacity from 24.1 GW in 2021 to 31.5 GW by 2035, analysts point out. That’s because, as the analysts explain, conventional generators act as baseload for intermittent renewable energy sources.
The other problem Canada’s government is faceing to phase out thermal power plants is at the provincial level where local governments tend to protect oil and gas industries. A case in point is Alberta’s Renewable Electricity Programme (REP) that held 3 auction rounds between 2016 and 2018 but was abandoned after the government changed.
“Canada has good governmental support, but it is not doing enough to ensure its targets are met. If the country is to meet its target to produce nearly 100% of electricity from zero-emitting sources by 2035, it should both increase the capacity and efficiency of renewable power plants, as well as provide comprehensive end-to-end policies at both the federal and provincial levels,” said GlobalData Power Analyst Attaurrahman Ojindaram Saibasan.
GlobalData recommends converting thermal power plants into clean energy plants with a roadmap to phase these out completely. The government should also spread awareness about renewable energy benefits amongst communities and businesses.
It should also ‘draw on examples from its European counterparts and add renewable capacity at a rapid pace’, added Saibasan.
Canada’s solar installations are slow compared to the Europeans or even its neighbor USA that’s the 2nd largest solar market in the world after China. While the US exited 2020 with 19.2 GW DC solar, Canada installed a mere 70 MW that year taking its cumulative to only close to 3 GW (see Canada Installed 70 MW New Solar Capacity In 2020).
In a November 2021 report, the Canadian Renewable Energy Association (CanREA) said the country needs to deploy 3.8 GW wind and 1.6 GW solar annually for the next 29 years to achieve net zero target by 2050 (see CanREA’s 2050 Vision Scenario For Canada).