Canada is an important partner of the United States and a major exporter of fuel to the United States.
Canada has set itself ambitious renewable energy targets and benefits from a wide range of renewable energy sources.
1. Canada’s vast energy potential and the Canadian geography
Canada is a land of opportunity and reaches as far as the eye can see. It has grown by leaps and bounds and has become a leading industrialized powerhouse. Part of its success stems from the enormous ability of Canadians to adapt to one of the harshest climates on earth.
Winter requires warmth to stay warm. For this reason alone, large parts of Canada’s metropolises are built underground. This is very important because it shares with us the enormous potential that heat extraction can have in Canada’s energy infrastructure. This also applies to new energy solutions that have become available on the market, such as the expansion of biomass treatment capacity in Canada.
We should not forget that Canada has a rich forest industry that can provide the raw material for heat and power generation. The construction and operation of CHP biomass power plants makes a lot of sense in Canada.
There is also great potential in the use of lignocellulosic material, which can be easily used to produce biofuels. Indeed, Canadian companies are leaders in waste-to-fuel operations that convert residual waste fractions into fuel.
In southern climate zones it would make far less sense to use biomass for heating solutions. But both in Canada and in the Scandinavian countries this makes sense. In comparison, the demand for heat extraction in countries like Brazil is much lower. In their case, it makes much more sense to convert biomass into fuel. In contrast to northern latitudes, plants like sugar cane grow much faster than hardwood.
2. Photovoltaics is only partially suitable for Canada
Photovoltaics is rather limited to Western Canada due to Canada’s northern latitude. On the other hand, if you go further south, the USA has a much better photovoltaic potential. Compared to photovoltaics, biomass and waste-to-energy seems to be a much better option. This is especially true in Canadian cities and large metropolitan areas where waste utilization is combined with heat recovery.
Quebec has great potential for renewable energy. The northern plains of Quebec are windswept and wide open with rising winds. This wind energy potential can be exploited. The main problem of renewable energy in Canada is the same as in Australia. The distances, the transmission losses, are simply too great to get from one point to another. This reduces the value of renewable energy production.
In addition to Quebec’s great potential for renewable energy, there is also great potential for renewable energy in the eastern provinces such as New Brunswick and Newfoundland. These countries offer very good conditions for wind energy. However, it must be said that the conditions for wind power generation in the East and in Quebec are not as good as in the UK and the North Sea.
3. Canada’s hydrocarbon resources: The hidden costs of oil sands
Then there are Canada’s significant oil reserves. They come in the form of oil sands. Oil sands are generally considered difficult to process. The processing of oil sands is an energy-intensive process that requires a lot of upfront capital investment. The capital expenditures for the processing of oil sands are gigantic. Another reason is the high operating costs involved in processing oil sands. This is a major reason why oil sands need higher oil prices to become economically attractive.
There is one simple truth. When it comes to oil sands, price matters. Canada’s oil sands are currently not competitive with tight oil in the United States.
But Canada’s tight gas prospects look much more promising. Part of the gas supply can be fed into the grid. The problem is that the United States already has an oversupply of natural gas that has too few customers. This was one of the first reasons why the United States wanted to export LNG to Europe at all. Although Canada has natural gas reserves, the supply chain and infrastructure is not sufficient to meet the domestic needs of industry and trade.
4. Forecast on Canada’s energy future 2020 – 2030
Canada is linked to the United States in energy policy. There is a close relationship between the two countries through NAFTA. In general, oil and gas are exported from Canada to the United States.
Canada’s energy security is also linked to the United States. Since the United States is one of the world’s leading producers of hydrocarbons, Canada is not dependent on oil imports from outside North America even if oil sands are no longer an option. However, this also creates a certain dependence on other nations.
The problem of tight gas reserves is that the western provinces of Canada still need to build an adequate pipeline network. This network must run from Alberta through the Rockey Mountains to British Columbia. This is necessary in order to export LNG abroad, provided there is excess capacity. This is a costly undertaking and hardly justifies the costs that would be incurred to build such a pipeline.
To ensure a certain degree of energy independence from the United States, it would make sense for Canada to steadily expand its renewable energy potential. Hydropower can only be expanded slightly. There is considerable potential for wind power in British Columbia, Quebec and the eastern provinces. While there is photovoltaic potential in the Praries, it is limited due to Canada’s northern latitude.