Canada's Energy Future
Canada’s Energy Future looks at energy supply and demand from a Reference Case and three scenario perspectives between and 2030. Across all scenarios, energy demand continues to increase but there will be enough supply to meet the growing need.
“Canadians will face a different energy environment in the next 25 years than in previous years,”says NEB Chair Gaétan Caron. “Fortunately, Canada has the gift of abundant natural resources and Canadians have the opportunity to make important choices and shape our energy future.”
While the report says that emerging technologies and alternative energy sources are growing fast, they continue to fulfill a small portion of the total energy demand requirements. For example, emerging and alternative energy, such as wind, solar, geothermal and biofuels (biomass, ethanol and biodiesel) in the “greenest” scenario account for 10 per cent of the total energy demand in Canada in 2030. Conventional energy will continue to be the number one fuel source for Canadians.
“Decisions taken today by every Canadian will over time go a long way towards creating a sustainable future,” says Caron.
Other highlights of the report include:
- Significant growth in the oil sands is expected and will come with an increase in pipeline infrastructure and markets. In two of the three scenarios, natural gas production and exports decline.
- Electricity exchanges between provinces and exports to the U.S. will increase.
- Controlling greenhouse gas emissions associated with energy use will be challenging and will require personal lifestyle changes.
While the report focuses on trends in energy supply and demand, it does not offer specific policy direction as to what programs or actions would be required to meet certain objectives. It notes it is up to the energy industry and policy-makers to determine the desired outcome and the tools required to get us there.
The report examines different possible energy futures that may unfold for Canadians up to the year 2030. This includes a baseline projection, called the Reference Case, which is the Board’s view of the most likely outcome up to the year 2015. Three different scenarios, each with its own internally consistent set of assumptions, such as economic growth, action on environmental issues and energy prices, are then used to examine Canada’s energy future to 2030. These include:
Continuing Trends Scenario: Trends that are apparent at the beginning of the outlook period are maintained throughout the entire forecast and extend the Reference Case over the long-term.
Triple E Scenario: A balancing of economic, environmental and energy objectives means this scenario has well-functioning energy markets, cooperative international agreements and the most rigorous energy demand management policies of the three scenarios.
Fortified Islands Scenario: Security concerns dominate this scenario with geopolitical unrest, a lack of international cooperation and trust, and protectionist government policies. The main findings of this report are:
- Energy demand will remain primarily a function of population and economic growth. With these two factors on the rise, energy demand is growing. The way Canadians use energy will change, but slowly. This is because our office buildings, homes and vehicles are not replaced or upgraded on a regular basis to take advantage of the latest energy efficient technologies.
- Canadians will continue to use automobiles for personal transportation. Although these vehicles are becoming more energy efficient, they will still rely primarily on fossil fuels.
- Energy efficiency across the economy will continue to improve. The rate of improvement will depend on government policies and Canadians’ commitment to managing the growth in energy demand. There will be a continued demand for natural gas including the need for gas in oil sands processing and electricity generation. However, there is also a move toward gas alternatives including substitution to other forms of energy and improved efficiency
- Fossil fuels will continue to be the dominant source of energy supply for Canadians through to 2030. New emerging technologies and renewable energy resources, such as wind power and small hydro power projects, will be increasingly used.
- Oil sands production will grow in all three scenarios and the production will contribute to increased exports and Canadian economic growth. Large volumes of crude coming from the oil sands will be moved to market and will require appropriate infrastructure to do so.
- Natural gas production from the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin (WCSB) will decline. In fact, in two of the three scenarios, total natural gas production declines. However, there are opportunities for development of gas reserves in northern and offshore regions.
- In the three scenarios studied, GHG emissions increase or decline slightly. In the Continuing Trends and Fortified Islands Scenarios, GHG emissions increase as a result of continued economic and energy demand growth. Under the Triple E Scenario, GHG emissions decline modestly as a result of energy demand management programs. Further changes by Canadians in lifestyle choices and more ambitious energy reduction programs, will be required to achieve additional reductions in GHG emissions.
- In order to achieve the Canadian government’s target of a 20 percent reduction in GHG emissions by 2020, the full spectrum of GHG reduction strategies will need to be considered. Elements of solution, amongst others, will be found in agriculture and forestry carbon sinks and international emissions trading.
Canada’s Energy Future carries on a long tradition dating back to 1967 of the NEB providing Canadians with information on the future of energy in Canada. The last NEB report focusing on the issues was released in the summer of 2003.
The NEB is an independent federal agency that regulates parts of Canada’s energy industry. As part of its mandate the NEB monitors the supply of all energy commodities in Canada and publishes a range of reports on energy.
For More Information: National Energy Board