President & CEO, WaterPower Canada
On the heels of recent wildfires and storms, flooding, and mudslides in Canada, as well as the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, it’s now clearer than ever that we need to take urgent action to tackle climate change and the threats it poses to our economy, livelihoods, and our healthy future.
Canada has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40 to 45 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, and our government has pledged to decarbonize the economy by 2050. It also recently committed to achieving a 100 percent net-zero emissions electricity sector by 2035. Waterpower will be central to delivering the goods on this agenda.
Hydro is already the backbone of Canada’s enviably clean electricity grid. Water flowing through turbines produces close to 90 percent of Canada’s renewable electricity, and 60 percent of the country’s electric needs are powered by water.
Nonetheless, despite having a grid that is 80 percent non-emitting, Canada’s decarbonization strategy hinges on electrification — the repowering of almost everything in our society that today burns fossil fuels to instead run on zero-emissions electricity. This will mean cars, buildings, factories, and more.
With only 20 percent of our energy end-use currently electrified, transitioning everything at scale will require us to generate double or even triple the capacity of current low-emissions electricity. Canada’s waterpower fleet stands ready to not only deliver new capacity, but also help smooth and balance the load for variable renewables such as wind and solar.
Whatever the current and future clean electricity needs — from rapidly growing electric vehicle adoption, to cutting-edge efforts to electrify high-intensity industrial processes such as steel manufacturing and investments in green hydrogen — Canada’s waterpower industry is prepared to make them happen.