Canadian Manufacturing

Canadians among biggest energy users even as world moves toward net zero emissions

The International Energy Agency's World Energy Outlook published on Oct. 13 shows Canadians used more than 300 gigajoules of energy per person last year.

October 15, 2021  The Canadian Press

Canadians are — and will remain — among the biggest consumers of energy over the next decade even as policies ramp up to make the country more energy-efficient, a global energy forecast suggests.

The International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook published on Oct. 13 shows Canadians used more than 300 gigajoules of energy per person last year, three times the world average and among the highest in the world.

Canada’s energy use was slightly higher than what Americans consumed, and almost twice the energy demand recorded in the European Union.

The agency report forecasts that as a result of policies to make homes more efficient, remove fossil fuels from the power grid and put more electric cars on the road, Canada’s power demand will fall below 300 gigajoules per person by 2030.

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But it will still be among the highest energy use in the world, and even though energy demand is expected to rise in India, China and the Middle East, Canada’s consumption is forecast to remain almost three times the world average.

It takes about 25 gigajoules to power the average Canadian house over 12 months, but the total energy use per person references all energy used, including in transportation, industry, and heating and cooling.

The IEA report doesn’t breakdown Canada’s energy use by source. However, a report earlier this year from BP said that, in 2020, 61 per cent of energy used in Canada was supplied by burning oil and gas, 25 per cent was from hydroelectricity, six per cent was nuclear energy, four per cent came from renewables like wind and solar power, and 3.7 per cent from burning coal.

BP said oil and gas provided 56 per cent of the world’s total energy consumption, while coal provided 27 per cent, nuclear four per cent, hydroelectricity seven per cent and renewables 5.6 per cent.

Isabelle Turcotte, director of federal policy at the Pembina Institute, said many people blame Canada’s high energy consumption on its size and climate, and an economy that has been reliant on energy-intensive natural resource production.

“But it doesn’t have to be this way,” she said. “This doesn’t need to translate into high energy needs. We can see other countries that have similar climates being more energy-efficient.”