Reaching net zero will require a massive electrification effort. Canada’s electricity grid will need to grow while decarbonizing. The benefits of transitioning Canada’s grid to run on zero-emission power go far beyond meeting our climate goals: It will also increase energy security, improve community health by reducing air pollution, and build economic competitiveness by positioning Canada as a clean energy destination for industrial activities.

of emissions

Priorities for Action

  1. Phase out coal generation
  2. Support non-emitting generation deployment
  3. Enhance grid infrastructure
  4. Address interprovincial transmission ties between carbon-intensive and clean provincial grids
  5. Manage electricity demand

The Opportunity

Though heavy fossil fuel dependence in some provinces and concerns over aging infrastructure and cost present challenges, Canada enjoys distinct advantages when it comes to non-emitting power compared to most industrialized nations. The electricity supply is already substantially decarbonized, with more than 80% of power coming from emission-free sources. Canadians also benefit from generous renewable resource endowments (i.e., wind and solar, but also tidal and geothermal), often located in areas with the highest fossil fuel dependence. And an abundance of legacy hydro infrastructure—the second largest installed capacity in the world—can provide additional energy storage to help balance grids and integrate large-scale intermittent renewables. 

Along with expanding clean power sources, electricity grids must be made smarter, more flexible, and more resilient, encouraging energy efficiency and flexible demand to balance the need for additional generation.

Today’s Challenges

Some provinces still heavily dependent on fossil energy; aging infrastructure; concerns over rising costs; tradition of provincial self-reliance

Future Challenges

Electricity supply and storage capabilities to reliably electrify transportation, buildings, and industry; large proportion of intermittent/variable renewables (wind, solar) on electricity grids; accommodating more distributed generation

Indicators of Progress

Percent of electricity demand supplied by non-emitting sources; proportion of energy end use provided by electricity

Our Net Zero Decision Support Tool envisions a transformational level of change across eight key pathways: