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Canada's most fossil fuel-dependent provinces are expected to lead the country’s sustainable growth, according to new data.

In a report released on Tuesday, the Canada Energy Regulator (CER) revealed that Prairie provinces would see the most significant increase in renewable energy capacity over the next three years. 

The CER defines capacity as the maximum amount of electricity that power stations can generate. For the sake of this report, capacity does not cover the use of renewables for transportation or heating purposes — and is largely considered sustainable when derived from hydro, tidal, wind, biomass, and solar sources.

According to projections, 26% of Alberta’s total energy production will come from renewable sources by 2023, up from 16% in 2017. Meanwhile, Saskatchewan's share of renewables in the capacity mix is set to reach 33% in 2023, marking a seven-point surge from its 2017 levels.

Although they account for most coal burned in the country, these provinces are expected to outpace Ontario, where renewable energy capacity will likely increase by a mere 0.4% per year until 2023, the report highlights. 

Similarly, countrywide reliance on sustainable electricity sources will continue to rise, albeit at a much slower rate, as CER Chief Economist Darren Christie pointed out.

“When people think about the Prairies, many of them think about fossil fuels,” Christie said in a release. “Interestingly, our projections show they are actually now leading the way in renewable energy growth, while national levels will slow in the next three years.”

Approximately two-thirds of Canada’s energy comes from renewable sources.

Recently, additional steps have been taken to diminish the country’s reliance on traditional power generation and reduce electricity-related emissions, 75% of which come from coal. 

As part of that effort, the federal government has pledged to go carbon-neutral by 2050 and has announced the introduction of a federal carbon tax hike as a centrepiece of its climate action plan.

Some provinces have heavily criticized this measure, and the Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling on its constitutionality on Thursday.

If passed, the tax could help Canada significantly reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in alignment with the targets set out by the Paris climate agreement.


Defend the Planet

Canada's Most Fossil Fuel-Reliant Provinces Are Paving the Way for Renewable Energy: Report

By Sarah El Gharib