Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Hydropower in Canada - Current outlook

Hydroelectric power plants currently generate around 60% of total electricity produced in Canada. In terms of totally installed hydropower capacity Canada only trails China, by having total hydropower capacity of 70,000 MW, coming from 480 hydroelectric power plants.

This means that hydropower is by far the most important renewable energy source in Canada. There is however plenty of room for further growth of hydroelectricity in Canada because Canada is estimated to have at least 163,000 MW of untapped hydropower potential.

The leading Canadian province in hydroelectricity generation is Quebec. Hydro-Qu├ębec's hydropower network includes 59 hydroelectric dams with a combined capacity of 34,118 megawatts, almost half of the Canadian total.

It is really no surprise that Canada wants hydropower to lead the way towards the clean energy future. This is not just because of abundant hydropower resources but also because hydroelectric power plants are very reliable and efficient energy source, with an efficiency of approximately 95%.

The construction costs are still significant but hydroelectric power plants have long lifespan, and minimal maintenance and operation costs. This, on the longer run, makes hydropower one of the most cost-effective energy sources.

Hydroelectricity generation in Canada

Canada has already announced plans for new hydropower projects. The country plans to spend $55 to $70 billion on new hydropower projects in the next 10 to 15 years. Once built, these new hydropower projects should increase Canada's current hydropower capacity by more than 14,000 MW. Most notable project is definitely a Lower Churchill Project, a 3,074 MW project planned in Labrador. The majority of new hydroelectric power plants are planned for Quebec (4,570 MW), followed by B.C. (3,341 MW) and Labrador (3,074 MW).

New hydropower projects should give huge boost to Canada's economy in form of new jobs. The current estimates mention 776,000 new jobs for construction firms and their suppliers while further 224,000 jobs should be created by increased spending by those directly or indirectly employed by these projects. We are talking here about 1,000,000 new jobs over the next 20 years from the construction activities alone.

Hydropower is really the most logical clean energy option for Canada. Canadian Hydropower Association President Jacob Irving recently said: "The Canadian hydropower industry has been, and will continue to be, a reliable source of clean, renewable energy for Canada."

The future certainly looks bright for hydropower in Canada. Hydropower is clean, reliable and highly efficient energy source with the very long history of use, and given Canada's vast hydropower potential, there's really no reason for Canadian hydropower industry to worry about what will happen in years to come.