Waterpower, Canada’s original and largest renewable energy resource, is as Canadian as it gets
Today on Canada Day 2020, as we celebrate Canada’s 153rd birthday and the things that make our country special and unique, let’s take a moment to be proud of our long history as a renewable energy powerhouse generating clean electricity from our most abundant renewable energy resource – flowing water.
Canada is known for our abundant clean water. The rain, snow and ice that replenishes our flowing rivers and streams, provide us with more water per capita than any other country in the world. Harnessing a small amount of the total kinetic energy in our flowing water to generate more than 90% of our total renewable electricity, makes waterpower Canada’s largest renewable energy resource.
It was only a few years after the creation of the Dominion of Canada in 1867 that the first Canadian waterpower station was commissioned: Ottawa’s Chaudière Falls marked Canada’s first use of hydroelectricity as a mass-market service (and is still powering thousands of homes and businesses in the Nation’s capital today). Waterpower generating stations truly are ‘generational assets’ as their lifetime can be extended indefinitely.
The year 2020 will have proven once again the unmatched resiliency and reliability of our waterpower fleet. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, hydroelectricity generators across the nation kept the lights on for millions of Canadian homes and businesses. That is no small feat. Given that more than 60% of Canada’s total electricity comes from waterpower, the contribution of our sector to keep other essential services going throughout the crisis has been critical.
Once this pandemic has passed, the economy will need a serious boost, and the climate crisis won’t have gone anywhere. Let’s remember that it is in large part thanks to our waterpower assets that Canada has one of the cleanest electricity grids in the world. Our sector also supports more than 130,000 jobs from coast-to coast- to coast and contributes more than $30B to the Canadian Gross Domestic Product every year. It is also a key economic partner for many First Nations across the country, providing joint venture partnerships, procurement and training opportunities.
As we turn our attention to building a green and resilient recovery, we should take advantage of the countless shovel-ready projects such as transmission lines, waterpower refurbishments and redevelopments that could be accelerated over the next few years. These green infrastructure projects represent tens of thousands of new jobs and billions of dollars of new investment annually, all while taking a major step toward phasing out fossil fuels such as coal and diesel in our electricity supply.
The 500+ stations still in operation across the country have largely contributed to building the Canada we know today and will continue to be essential assets in securing a clean and sustainable future for future generations. Waterpower, Canada’s original and largest renewable energy resource, is as Canadian as it gets.
Happy Canada Day!
Anne-Raphaëlle Audouin, President and CEO, WaterPower Canada