Canada, one of the least densely populated countries in the world, covers a territory of about 10Mkm2 with a population of about 30M. Due to the rigorous climate and the large distances between population centres, Canada has a relatively high per capita energy use.
Faced with the challenges of climate and territory, the Canadian energy industry has developed expertise in the generation and transmission of energy, in particular clean, reliable and renewable hydroelectric power. Over the years, Canada has also become world-renowned for its hydro power project design and construction.
The country is home to some of the largest and most powerful hydro power facilities in the world, eg:
• Churchill Falls underground power plant in Labrador (5429MW).
• Robert-Bourassa Complex near James Bay, Quèbec (5328MW).
• Daniel-Johnson arch and buttress dam on the Manicouagan river, Quèbec (214m high).
Today there are approximately 450 hydroelectric power plants operating in Canada and more than 200 small hydro plants (<10 MW). Canada also has more than 800 dams that are used for hydroelectric power generation, irrigation and flood control.
With an installed capacity of 67,121MW (year 2000) Canada is the world’s biggest producer of hydro power, leading the US, Brazil, China and Russia with production of more than 13% of the global output of hydro power.
Canada generates about 350TWh/yr of hydro power, an amount that represents more than 60% of the country’s total electricity production, and further opportunities remain for new hydro power project development across the territory. Another 118,000MW of hydro power, twice the amount that is currently in operation, could technically be developed. Every province, except Prince Edward Island, has some remaining potential. The provinces of Quèbec, Manitoba, and British Columbia in particular, hold significant potential for development.
Hydro power projects must undergo a lengthy regulatory process, including comprehensive environmental assessment and public consultations. This regulatory process significantly slows down the development of new hydro power projects. However, the growing concern for greenhouse gas emissions should lead to the development of new hydro capacity to address climate change while helping to meet growing electricity demand. Electricity consumption has increased by only 2.2% (year 2000), and the average projected increase is 1.3% per year over the next two decades.
About 6000MW of additional hydro power capacity is planned for the coming years, which includes projects such as:
• Eastmain-Rupert (1200MW).
• Toulnustouc (77m concrete-faced rockfill dam; 517MW)
• Peribonka project in Quèbec (400MW).
• Wuskwatim (21.5m earthfill dam; 200MW).
• Notigi (14m earthfill dam; 100MW).
• Gull Rapids (22m earthfill dam; 620MW), Manitoba;
• Gull Island (99m earthfill dam), Labrador.