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Canada’s future energy supply requires reflection due to the current political and environmental issues combined with the growth of the global population. Fossil fuel reserves are dwindling, and their consumption is controversial due to the anthropogenic pollution they generate. The role of global governments is crucial in defining a sustainable supply strategy for the years to come.
In this context, the report “A Look at Canada’s Energy Future in 2021,” prepared by Canada’s Energy Board, plays a role. It envisions two scenarios – maintaining current policies and a second scenario involving gradual policy changes regarding carbon pricing, energy efficiency, and clean energy infrastructure, among others, aligned with the ambition of decarbonizing the power grid. The report contemplates the prospects for energy supply evolution in Canada by 2050.
This analysis predicts that an accelerated carbon pricing approach, as announced by the government (reaching $800/ton of CO2 by 2050), would result in a nearly 60% reduction in the consumption of non-captured emissions fossil fuels, thereby encouraging the development of low-emission energy sources.
However, achieving net-zero emissions with current technologies does not appear feasible yet. This will prompt provinces to adopt different strategies, combining hydroelectricity, nuclear, fossil fuels, biomass with CO2 capture, hydrogen, solar, and wind energy to best meet demand while awaiting the development of emission-free production technologies.
The envisioned reduction in fossil fuel consumption significantly impacts their production and use in the territory. Crude oil production in the country peaks in 2032 before gradually declining, presenting a total growth of 11% by 2050. Meanwhile, natural gas production sees a 17% reduction during this period, despite a 10% increase in liquefied natural gas (LNG) production.
These changes are motivated by export prospects: the Energy Board estimates that the federal government could reach the total export capacity of pipelines (existing and planned) for oil, while 40% of LNG production is intended for international markets. For the reduced portion consumed domestically, their use will be combined with carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies.
To adapt to these changes, Canadians will consume more electricity from low-carbon sources, with demand projected to increase by 47% by 2050, driven by emerging sectors such as electric vehicles or hydrogen production. Gradual strengthening of energy efficiency regulations, through the development of zero-emission buildings and tighter standards for appliances, will significantly reduce energy demand across different sectors – around 50% in the commercial sector and 25% in residential, industrial, and transportation sectors.
With the goal of approaching carbon neutrality, solar and wind power with battery storage will represent the largest share of additional production capacity (82 to 85%). However, forecasts rely on the use of flexible production sources to balance supply and demand.
Thus, the strategies envisioned will reduce emissions to 3 to 8 g CO2/kWh produced, a 95% reduction compared to 2019. However, these results remain nuanced, especially in light of recent political conflicts and the unpredictable development of energy-related technologies.
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