Hydropower in Canada: our coast-to-coast-to-coast clean energy advantage

An essential asset in a net zero world

Hydropower facilities have been in operation since the 1890s. And while this industry is an important part of Canada’s history, it will only become more important as we strive for net zero carbon emissions.

Hydropower is:

  • Renewable
  • Low carbon
  • Low cost
  • Reliable (a source of always-available baseload electricity)


The tremendous storage capacity at hydropower facilities is already instrumental in backstopping and enabling wider use of weather-dependent renewable energy resources like wind and solar.

And in a changing climate, hydropower facilities can also help store and regulate water flows for ecological, recreational, and flood-management purposes.

Canada has tremendous potential to continue to invest in existing and new hydropower generation, storage, and transmission projects. The coming years will see significant benefits including jobs, business opportunities, and vast clean electricity production from this important sector of the economy.

A 2021 statistical snapshot and overview

There are more than 550 hydropower facilities across Canada, and in 2021 their total installed generating capacity came in at an estimated 82,307 MW. Since 2005, the hydropower sector saw growth of nearly 10,000 MW of installed capacity.

Hydro is the backbone of Canada’s enviably clean electricity grid. Water flowing through turbines produces close to 90% of Canada’s renewable electricity, and 60% of the country’s electric needs are powered by water.

Hydropower is essential in powering our lives, and the industry that produces it is also an economic powerhouse in its own right. Hydropower is the largest employer among the various renewable power sectors, accounting for 48,790 direct and indirect jobs in generation alone.

According to the International Hydropower Association, Canada is also a giant in the global hydropower industry, as the third-largest generating country which accounts for nine per cent of total global hydroelectric production.

The province-by-province picture 

Nearly 16 million Canadians live in provinces where 90 per cent or more of supply comes from hydropower (Statistics Canada).

The cost advantage

Canadians who have the greatest access to hydropower also tend to pay the least for their electricity.

Full facilities listing

Wherever you live, you probably aren’t far from one of the hundreds of hydropower facilities across Canada. These facilities are of different types and widely varying sizes. A number of them have been in operation since early in the last century and in some cases even longer.

View the full facilities listing

Source: Renewable Energy Power Plants, 1 MW or more – North American Cooperation on Energy Information

National Conference2024 Canadian Waterpower Week

September 25-27, 2024 | The Westin Ottawa

This must attend event will bring together key decision makers, industry experts, policy and business influencers and offer opportunities to come together for an intensive, highly collaborative exploration of new technologies, best practices, and pressing issues, all to enable a collective change.

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