Canada expected to miss its 2035 clean electricity goals, says GlobalData

Canada is expected to fall short of its 2035 clean electricity target, according to GlobalData, after reviewing the country’s current renewable capacity activity. The leading data and analytics company notes that the country was targeted to produce nearly 100% of its electricity from zero-emitting sources by 2035, however, the country is adding only 2.6 GW of annual renewable capacity additions on average every year, which would mean a cumulative shortfall of 48.4 GW.

Attaurrahman Ojindaram Saibasan, Power Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “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. It should also involve communities and businesses in raising awareness of the benefits of adopting renewable energy.”

GlobalData’s latest report, ‘Canada Power Market Size, Trends, Regulations, Competitive Landscape and Forecast, 2022-2035’, reveals that Canada is increasing its capacity of gas-based plants from 24.1GW in 2021 to 31.5 GW by 2035. Renewables are currently an intermittent power source in Canada, so conventional generators are used to take its baseload.

Saibasan continues: “The country has a large amount of proven natural gas and oil reserves that are proving too tempting an opportunity, and the Canadian government is planning to increase the capacity of its gas-based plants to secure real-time demand and supply. However, the country’s dependency on gas-based plants creates a major challenge to achieve its 2035 zero-emissions target.

“If the Canadian government is to meet its 2035 targets, it should draw on examples from its European counterparts and add renewable capacity at a rapid pace. One advantage for Canada here is that it does not have land constraints, which is common in other major renewable power generating countries. GlobalData’s report highlights that this could give the country an estimated 6.1 GW of renewable capacity every year on average during the 2021–2035 period: enough capacity to meet its target. Most of these installations are expected to be for wind and solar PV.”

While Canada has ample support from its government, with recent federal budgets introducing a range of new programs to accelerate the growth and implementation of cleantech such as smart grid initiatives and energy storage initiatives, the country faces restraints at the provincial level to entirely phase out thermal power plants. For example, the Renewable Electricity Programme (REP) was launched in Alberta in 2016 to incentivize the deployment of renewable energy capacity in the province until 2030, but the project was abandoned in 2019 by the new government under the United Conservative Party to protect local oil and gas industries. Three rounds of auctions were conducted under the REP program until the end of 2018.

Saibasan continues: “Changing provincial governments are not helpful when it comes to implementing long-term projects and continued stopping and starting of projects like this will only be damaging to renewable goals.”

 Another way the country can achieve its target is by converting thermal power plants into clean energy plants and providing a roadmap or timeline for provinces to retire thermal power plants completely.

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