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.
- 67% of Canada’s electricity comes from renewable sources and 82% from non-GHG emitting sources
- Canada is the world’s second largest producer of hydroelectricity
- Canada exports nearly 9% 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
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.
Find out how Canada’s electricity ranks on an international scale:
|Rank||Country||Percentage of Total|
|Rank||Country||Percentage of Total|
The Canadian energy industry generated 652.3 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity in 2017.
Total electricity generation in Canada in 2017 was 652 terawatt hours. Hydro has the highest share of generation at 60%, 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 makes up 60.2% of Canada’s electricity generation.
Provincial electricity supply from hydroelectricity:
- Manitoba: 96.8%
- Quebec: 95.0%
- Newfoundland and Labrador: 93.7%
- Yukon: 92.2%
- British Columbia: 90.5%
- Northwest Territories: 38.5%
- Ontario: 25.9%
- New Brunswick: 19.6%
- Saskatchewan: 13.7%
- Nova Scotia: 8.8%
- Alberta: 2.5%
Nuclear makes up 14.6% of Canada’s electricity generation.
Share of provincial electricity supply from nuclear power:
- Ontario: 58.6%
- New Brunswick: 36.1%
Wind makes up 4.4% of Canada’s electricity generation.
Share of provincial electricity supply from wind power:
- Prince Edward Island: 97.9%
- Nova Scotia: 11.8%
- Ontario: 6.7%
- New Brunswick: 6.6%
- Alberta: 5.4%
- Quebec: 3.9%
- Saskatchewan: 3.8%
- Manitoba: 2.7%
- Northwest Territories: 2.0%
- British Columbia: 1.3%
- Newfoundland and Labrador: 0.5%
Biomass makes up 1.8% of Canada’s electricity generation.
Share of provincial electricity supply from biomass:
- British Columbia: 6.4%
- Nova Scotia: 4.9%
- New Brunswick: 4.2%
- Alberta: 2.2%
- Ontario: 1.3%
- Quebec: 0.8%
- Prince Edward Island: 0.7%
- Newfoundland and Labrador: 0.3%
- Manitoba: 0.1%
Natural gas makes up 8.6% of Canada’s electricity generation.
Share of provincial electricity supply from natural gas:
- Alberta: 42.2%
- Saskatchewan: 35.7%
- Nova Scotia: 14.3%
- New Brunswick: 9.9%
- Ontario: 5.2%
- Northwest Territories: 4.0%
- Yukon: 2.0%
- British Columbia: 1.1%
- Newfoundland and Labrador: 0.7%
- Quebec: 0.1%
Petroleum makes up 1.2% of Canada’s electricity generation.
Share of provincial electricity supply from petroleum sources:
- Nunavut: 100%
- Northwest Territories: 55.3%
- Nova Scotia: 12.2%
- New Brunswick: 7.6%
- Yukon: 5.5%
- Newfoundland and Labrador: 4.8%
- Alberta: 2.6%
- Prince Edward Island: 1.1%
- British Columbia: 0.7%
- Quebec: 0.2%
- Manitoba: 0.2%
- Ontario: 0.1%
Solar makes up 0.5% of Canada’s electricity generation.
Share of provincial electricity supply from solar power:
- Ontario: 2.2%
- Prince Edward Island: 0.3%
- Yukon : 0.3%
- Northwest Territories: 0.2%
- Saskatchewan: 0.1%
- Alberta: 0.1%
- Nova Scotia: 0.03%
Coal makes up 8.6% of Canada’s electricity generation.
Share of provincial electricity supply from coal:
- Nova Scotia: 47.9%
- Saskatchewan: 46.6%
- Alberta: 44.9%
- New Brunswick: 15.8%
- Manitoba: 0.1%
Other sources generate electricity in some provinces and territory.
Share of provincial electricity supply from other sources:
- Alberta: 0.2%
Share of provincial electricity supply from tidal power:
- Nova Scotia: 0.2%
In 2018, Canada exported 61.4 TWh of electricity to the U.S and imported 13.2 TWh.
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 2018, Canadian exports were 61 terawatt hours and imports were 13 terawatt hours.
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.
Average residential and large industrial electricity prices, including taxes, for one city per province in cents per kilowatt-hour for April 2018.
|City||Industrial Price (cents/kWh)||Residential Price (cents/kWh)|
The total electricity energy use in Canada in 2016 was 1,785 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|
*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.
Total electricity energy use in Canada in 2016 was 1,785 petajoules. Québec has the largest share of consumption at 35%, followed by Ontario at 27%, Alberta at 11%, British Columbia and the Territories at 12%, the Atlantic provinces at 7%, Saskatchewan and Manitoba both at 4%.
- World production and exports: International Energy Agency database (Electricity Information [note: IEA production/generation data is expressed on a “gross” basis, i.e. before generating station use])
- Trade: National Energy Board table Electricity Exports and Imports Statistics, Statistics Canada and United States Energy Information Administration table 5.1 (Retail Sales of Electricity to Ultimate Customers)
- Canadian and provincial supply: compiled by Statistics Canada and NRCan’s Electricity Division from various sources
- Domestic demand: Statistics Canada table 25-10-0030-01
- Prices: Hydro-Québec (Comparison of Electricity Prices in Major North American Cities)
- Electricity energy use: Office of Energy Efficiency Comprehensive Energy Use Database.
- Levelized cost of electricity: Canadian Energy Research Institute: A Comprehensive Guide to Electricity Generation Options in Canada
- World capacity: United Nations Energy Statistics Yearbook, table 32 (Net installed capacity of electric generating plants)