Hydroelectricity in Canada

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Canada is the world's second largest producer of hydroelectricity after China. In 2014, Canada consumed the equivalent of 85.7 megatonnes worth of oil of hydroelectricity, 9.8% of worldwide hydroelectric consumption. Further, hydroelectricity accounted for 25.7% of Canada's total energy consumption (37.3% of non-oil sources). It is the third-most consumed energy in Canada behind oil and natural gas (30.9% and 28.1% of total consumption, respectively).[1]

Some provinces and territories, such as British Columbia, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec and Yukon produce over 90% of their electricity from Hydro. All of the dams with large reservoirs were completed before 1990, since then most development has been run-of-the-river, both large and small. Natural Resources Canada calculates the current installed small hydro capacity is 3,400 MW, with an estimated potential of 15,000 MW.[2] A report on the future of hydroelectricity, suggests the remaining 78% potential will remain undeveloped up to 2050, citing a lack of public acceptance.[3]

Canada has about 75 GW of installed hydroelectric capacity, producing 392 TWh of electricity in 2013.[4]

British Columbia[edit]

90% of BC Hydro's generation is produced by hydroelectric means. Natural gas and biomass thermal power round out the generation portfolio.[5]

Over 80% of BC Hydro's installed in generating capacity is at hydroelectric installations in the Peace and Columbia river basins. The GM Shrum and Peace Canyon generating stations on the Peace River produced 29% of BC Hydro's electricity requirements. In the Columbia River Basin, Mica and Revelstoke hydroelectric plants together contributed 25%, while Kootenay Canal and Seven Mile generating stations together supplied 10%.[5]

The remaining 25 hydroelectric generating stations supplied 14% of electricity production. BC Hydro also operates thermal power plants. The Burrard Thermal Generating Station contributes 7.5% and the remaining 14.5% of the electricity requirement was supplied by purchases and other transactions.[5]

BC Hydro's last dam was completed in 1984, since then run-of-the-river projects with private partners have been built. Power production without reservoirs varies dramatically though the year, so older dams with large reservoirs, retain water and average out capacity. As of 2012 there were approximately 40 small hydro sites generating 750 MW.[6] By 2014 various companies have built a total of 100 run of the river projects under 50MW. In 2014 they produced 18,000 GWh from 4,500 MW of capacity.[7]

A second crown corporation, Columbia Power Corporation and two companies also own large dams in BC, Alcan's Kemano Project and FortisBC.

Manitoba Hydro[edit]

As of March 31, 2013, Manitoba Hydro serves a peak Manitoba electrical load of more than 4500 megawatts. Electrical supply to Manitoba customers was 21.5 terawatt-hours in fiscal 2013, with total revenue due to electricity of $1.733 billion CAD. Extraprovincial sales were at 9.1 terawatthours, with normal water flows. The company also delivered 2.05 billion cubic metres of natural gas in 2013, which contributed $573 million CAD to revenues.[22]

Newfoundland and Labrador[edit]

Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro's installed generating capacity, 7289 megawatts (MW), 80% hydroelectric, is the fourth largest of all utility companies in Canada.


Ontario Power Generation Produces 50% of electricity used in the province, 40% from hydroelectric, and 60% from nuclear-powered facilities. There also thermal plants that burn biomass and natural gas with a generating capacity of 2,458 MW; these plants were not used in 2015.[8]

After a provincial government commitment to phase out all coal generating plants, two units at Nanticoke were shut down in fall 2010.[9] Another two were shut down in 2011.[10] The final four were shut down on December 31, 2013.[11]


Hydro-Québec's extensive network of 61 hydroelectric dams have a combined capacity of 38,400 megawatts,[12] accounting for over half of the Canadian total. Hydropower accounts for 95.73%[13] of the supply sold by the Quebec state-owned utility. Five of Hydro-Québec's hydroelectric facilities are rated above 2,000 MW — the Manic-5, La Grande-4, La Grande-3 La Grande-2-A and Robert-Bourassa stations — while 7 others have a capacity of over 1,000 megawatts.[14]

New projects[edit]

The Lower Churchill Project is a planned hydroelectric project in Labrador and includes the Muskrat Falls Generation Facility with a total generating capacity of 824 MW in 2020. The Gull Island facility will consist of a generation station with a capacity of 2,250 MW after 2023.[15]

Romaine River project in Quebec started construction in 2009 and will have a capacity of 1550 MW by 2020.

Site C dam on the Peace River in British Columbia will have a capacity of 1100 MW in 2024.

Keeyask on the Nelson River, Manitoba is under construction and expecting completion of a 695 MW station in 2019.


See also[edit]

External links[edit]

A View of Canadian Hydroelectric Generation Markets - 2016


  1. ^ "BP Statistical Review of World Energy June 2015" (PDF). BP Global. BP. p. 36, 41. Retrieved 8 May 2016. 
  2. ^ https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/energy/renewable-electricity/small-hydropower/7363
  3. ^ http://www.iea.org/publications/freepublications/publication/hydropower_essentials.pdf graph pg3
  4. ^ "IEA - Report". www.iea.org. Retrieved 13 June 2016. 
  5. ^ a b c ergy_in_bc/our_system/generation.html BC Hydro Generation System Retrieved 2012-03-05
  6. ^ http://www.energybc.ca/profiles/runofriver.html#rorworld
  7. ^ https://www.bchydro.com/energy-in-bc/acquiring_power/meeting_energy_needs/how_power_is_acquired.html
  8. ^ http://www.opg.com/generating-power/Pages/generating-power.aspx
  9. ^ Talaga, Tanya (3 September 2009). "Ontario shuts 4 coal-fired units". The Star. Toronto. 
  10. ^ "Ontario's Long-Term Energy Plan" (PDF). Government of Ontario. 2010. Retrieved 22 August 2012. 
  11. ^ "OPG'S NANTICOKE STATION STOPS BURNING COAL" (PDF). Ontario Power Generation. 2014. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-01-16. Retrieved 18 April 2014. 
  12. ^ "Facts - Canadian Hydropower. Electricity that is clean, renewable and reliable". Canadian Hydropower. Electricity that is clean, renewable and reliable. Retrieved 2016-04-07. 
  13. ^ Hydro-Québec (2007). "Hydro-Québe's Electricity Facts: Energy Supplies and Air Emissions" (PDF). Archived from the original (pdf) on 2010-08-27. Retrieved 2009-05-06. 
  14. ^ Hydro-Québec. Hydro Quebec: Annual Report, 2013 (pdf). Montreal. 
  15. ^ https://nalcorenergy.com/nalcor-operations/lower-churchill-project/

Further reading[edit]

  • Desbiens, Caroline. Power from the North: Territory, Identity, and the Culture of Hydroelectricity in Quebec (2014)
  • Froschauer, Karl. White gold: Hydroelectric Power in Canada. (Vancouver: UBC Press, 1999) excerpt and text search