Electricity facts

What is electricity?

Electricity is the flow of electrons from a negatively charged body to a positively charged body. Electricity is a secondary energy source with a large number of applications that include heating, lighting, and powering electric motors.

Key facts

  • 66% of Canada’s electricity comes from renewable sources and 81% from non-GHG emitting sources
  • Canada is the world’s second largest producer of hydroelectricity
  • Canada exports nearly 11% of the electricity it generates to the United States. There are 34 active major international transmission lines connecting Canada to the U.S.

Learn more about electricity in Canada

Electricity industry

The electricity industry performs three main activities:

  • Generating electricity by using various energy sources and technologies
  • High-voltage transmission of electricity, usually over long distances, from power plants to end-use markets
  • Distributing electricity to end-users, usually through low-voltage, local power distribution lines

In some provinces, electricity is provided by vertically integrated electric utilities that are often structured as provincial Crown corporations. Vertically integrated electric utilities dominate every part of the supply chain and are the primary Generator, Retailer and System Operator in the electricity market.

International context

Find out how Canada’s electricity ranks on an international scale:

World production
World generation – 25,082 TWh (2016)
Rank Country Percentage of Total
1 China 25%
2 United States 17%
3 India 6%
4 Russia 4%
5 Japan 4%
6 Canada 3%
7 Germany 3%
8 Brazil 2%
World exports
World exports – 724 TWh (2016)
Rank Country Percentage of Total
1 Germany 11%
2 Canada 10%
3 France 8%
4 Paraguay 7%
5 Switzerland 4%

Generation

The Canadian energy industry generated 648.4 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity in 2016.

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Total electricity generation in Canada in 2016 was 648 terawatt hours. Hydro has the highest share of generation at 59%, followed by nuclear at 15%, coal at 9%, gas/oil/others at 10% and non-hydro renewables at 7%.

Find out about energy production by region and sources

Hydro
Dam

Hydro makes up 59.1% of Canada’s electricity generation. 
Provincial electricity supply from hydroelectricity:

  • Manitoba: 97.0%
  • Quebec: 95.3%
  • Newfoundland and Labrador: 94.3%
  • Yukon: 93.7%
  • British Columbia: 89.4%
  • Northwest Territories: 37.4%
  • Ontario: 22.3%
  • New Brunswick: 21.5%
  • Saskatchewan: 13.3%
  • Nova Scotia: 8.7%
  • Alberta: 2.8%
Nuclear
Nuclear power

Nuclear makes up 14.7% of Canada’s electricity generation.
Share of provincial electricity supply from nuclear power:

  • Ontario: 57.5%
  • New Brunswick: 31.2%
Wind
Wind power

Wind makes up 4.7% of Canada’s electricity generation.
Share of provincial electricity supply from wind power:

  • Prince Edward Island: 98.1%
  • Nova Scotia: 10.4%
  • Ontario: 7.7%
  • Alberta: 7.0%
  • New Brunswick: 5.9%
  • Quebec: 3.6%
  • Manitoba: 3.0%
  • Saskatchewan: 2.4%
  • Northwest Territories: 2.1%
  • British Columbia: 1.4%
  • Newfoundland and Labrador: 0.5%
  • Yukon: 0.1%
Biomass
Biomass power

Biomass makes up 1.7% of Canada’s electricity generation.
Share of provincial electricity supply from biomass:

  • British Columbia: 7.1%
  • Nova Scotia: 4.5%
  • New Brunswick: 3.6%
  • Alberta: 1.6%
  • Ontario: 1.3%
  • Quebec: 0.8%
  • Prince Edward Island: 0.7%
  • Manitoba: 0.2%
Natural Gas
Electricity generation

Natural gas makes up 9.2% of Canada’s electricity generation.
Share of provincial electricity supply from nuclear power:

  • Alberta: 38.6%
  • Saskatchewan: 34.8%
  • New Brunswick: 16.3%
  • Nova Scotia: 12.6%
  • Ontario: 9.3%
  • Northwest Territories: 2.2%
  • British Columbia: 2.0%
  • Yukon: 0.7%
  • Newfoundland and Labrador: 0.6%
  • Manitoba: 0.2%
Petroleum
Petroleum power

Petroleum makes up 1% of Canada’s electricity generation.
Share of provincial electricity supply from petroleum sources:

  • Nunavut: 100%
  • Northwest Territories: 58.3%
  • Nova Scotia: 15.1%
  • New Brunswick: 6.7%
  • Yukon: 5.3%
  • Newfoundland and Labrador: 4.6%
  • Alberta: 1.3%
  • Prince Edward Island: 1.0%
  • Quebec: 0.2%
  • British Columbia: 0.1%
  • Manitoba: 0.1%
  • Ontario: 0.1%
Solar
Solar power

Solar makes up 0.5% of Canada’s electricity generation.
Share of provincial electricity supply from solar power:

  • Ontario: 1.9%
  • Prince Edward Island: 0.2%
  • Nova Scotia : 0.2%
  • Northwest Territories: 0.1%
  • Yukon : 0.1%
Coal
Coal industry

Coal makes up 9.0% of Canada’s electricity generation.
Share of provincial electricity supply from coal:

  • Saskatchewan: 48.9%
  • Alberta: 48.5%
  • Nova Scotia: 48.5%
  • New Brunswick: 14.8%
  • Manitoba: 0.1%
Other
Power sources

Other sources generate electricity in some provinces and territory.
Share of provincial electricity supply from other sources:

  • Alberta: 0.2%
  • Ontario: 0.1%

Share of provincial electricity supply from tidal power:

  • Nova Scotia: 0.2%

Trade

All Canadian electricity trade is with the U.S. In 2017, Canada exported 72 TWh of electricity to the U.S and imported 10 TWh.

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Exports of electricity under purchased contracts, excluding electricity transferred under non-financial agreements, such as treaty obligations, have been generally increasing since 2010 whereas imports have been declining. In 2017, Canadian exports were 72 terawatt hours and imports were 10 terawatt hours.

Prices

Since the means of producing electricity as well as the infrastructure to get it to its users varies across provinces, so do the prices of electricity for Canadian residents and industries.

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Average residential and large industrial electricity prices, including taxes, for one city per province in cents per kilowatt-hour for April 2017.

Electricity energy use

The total electricity energy use in Canada in 2015 was 1,784 petajoules (PJ). The residential, commercial, industrial, transportation and agricultural sectors all share in the intensive demand for Canadian electricity.

Sector Energy use (PJ) % of the total
Residential 608.5 34.1%
Commercial 425.2 23.8%
Industrial 711.3 39.9%
Transportation 3.8 0.2%
Agriculture 35 2.0%
Total 1,783.8 100%

*Secondary energy use

Electricity energy use varies greatly from province to province. Provinces with plentiful and cheap electricity from large scale electricity projects like British Columbia and Quebec, tend to use more electricity per person than those provinces who rely on other energy means to do things like heat their homes and water.

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Total electricity energy use in Canada in 2015 was 1,784 petajoules. Québec has the largest share of consumption at 35%, followed by Ontario at 28%, Alberta at 11%, British Columbia and the Territories at 11%, the Atlantic provinces at 7%, Saskatchewan and Manitoba both at 4%.

Sources