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January 11

Renewable Energy Sources: Their Future in Canada

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Renewable energy sources can be replenished as fast, or faster than it's used. Canada is a world leader in renewable energy. Almost 19 percent of the nation's primary energy supply comes from renewable energy. Part of the reason is Canada's large landmass, a long coastline, and a variety of renewable energy sources. Many provinces call their electrical utility "Hydro" because so much of Canada's energy comes from hydroelectric sources: moving water. Hydroelectricity is the first type of renewable energy that was adopted in Canada. It's far from the only cause, and many other clean, renewable energy sources are available for use as alternatives to non-renewable energy such as power generated from coal, oil, or natural gas.

Types of Renewable Energy Sources

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Natural Resources Canada identifies four primary sources of natural energy: moving water (hydroelectricity), bioenergy or biomass, solar, wind, and geothermal.


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Solar power is derived from the sun's rays. There are two primary types of solar power: passive solar or thermal energy, and active solar, which uses solar arrays. Solar arrays are comprised of photovoltaic (PV) cells, which convert the sun's light to electrical power. Passive solar power uses the heat of the sun to directly warm water for swimming pools or water heaters. When you allow the sun to enter your home through west and south-facing windows during the winter, you're using a form of passive solar energy. Solar power may be used year-round, contrary to some beliefs. Solar cells use the sun's light, not heat, to generate electricity. Solar battery storage is rapidly evolving to allow the storage of solar power on cloudy days or at night.


New Brunswick is a leader in wind power, with over 300 megawatts of installed wind power capacity. As recently as 2006, the province didn't have any wind energy. Now, New Brunswick's wind power facilities can power up to 50 percent of electrical needs. Wind power is similar to solar power in that when the wind isn't blowing (or the sun isn't shining), wind farms don't generate any energy. Storage batteries also help to extend the life of wind power. The more wind power is integrated into New Brunswick's grid; the more cost-effective and efficient wind power use will be.

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new brunswick coastline

Naturally-flowing water creates kinetic energy that can be converted into hydropower. Water can be directly used to mill grain or power sawmills. Dams work because flowing water directed into a turbine makes the turbine's blades spin. The spinning blades lead energy into an electrical generator. The generator produces power which is connected to the electrical grid, and eventually, homes and businesses. As of 2014, Canada had 542 hydro-electrical stations ranging from small facilities to large. Canada's hydro takes advantage of its many flowing rivers and water-rich environment. Quebec has Canada's most significant amount of installed hydroelectric generating facilities. Canada is the second-largest hydroelectric generating country in the world, second to China.


Bioenergy refers to biological, organic material that is solid, liquid, or in gas form. Although petroleum and coal are derived from natural materials, they are fossil fuels and take hundreds of millions of years to change from organic materials. Biomass or bioenergy generations use renewable biological resources. Biomass used to generate energy can include wood, which is probably the world's oldest biofuel. According to Natural Resources Canada, about 100 petajoules of energy from wood are used every year in Canadian homes. Wood burning accounts for 7 percent of residential energy use in Canada.

stack of logs


mountains with smoke

Geothermal energy comes from heat stored in the earth, particularly in geologically active areas. Most of Canada's geothermal energy is generated in British Columbia, Alberta, Northwest Territories, and Yukon. People in geothermically active areas can install heat pumps directly into the ground to harvest thermal energy to heat water or their homes. Iceland, the world's most geologically active nation, derives 99 percent of its electricity from renewable sources

What is the Potential for Renewable Energy?

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Canada's natural resources and topography are so vast that Canada really could transition to 99 percent renewable energy sources.
Estimates of renewable energy adoption vary widely. A climate scientist from Stanford University, Dr. Mark Jacobson, presented a plan to the Paris Climate accords in 2015, which proposed that Canada could have 100% renewable energy by 2050. Jacobson's plan included the following energy breakdown:

  • 21.2%Solar
  • 37.5%Land-based wind power
  • 21.0% Offshore wind power
  • 2% Wave energy
  • 1.9% Geothermal
  • 16.2% Hydroelectric
  • .2% tidal turbine (Bay of Fundy)

  • Jacobson's plan is attractive because of Canada's hydro-powered over 54 percent of Canada's energy needs in 2017. All of the other renewable sources combined totaled an additional 11.5% of Canada's total energy generating capacity.

    As of 2016, about 66 percent of Canada's power came from renewable energy sources.
    With this backdrop and amount of resources, Canada should easily be able to transition away from non-renewable energy to renewable energy -- probably much sooner than 2050.

    What is New Brunswick's Potential for Renewable Energy?

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    New Brunswick's power sources differ from other provinces. As of 2016, the region got 29.9% of its energy from renewable sources. Hydro accounts for more than 20 percent of New Brunswick's power generation. Adding other renewable sources to this mix can only serve to bring down costs for consumers in the long run. The good news is that the province met its targets for reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 15 years early in 2015. But New Brunswick's energy mix differs from some other Canadian areas, particularly in the use of coal and natural gas. With ample wind, solar, and water resources (including tidal power), New Brunswick can transition to much more renewable energy.

    Why Does New Brunswick and the World Need Renewable Energy?

    Fossil fuels developed over hundreds of millions of years, unlike today's anaerobic digestion of biomass that can produce methane, fossil fuels like coal, natural gas, and petroleum are not renewable. Once they are used, they cannot be replaced. Some estimates of the world's remaining fossil fuels show as little as 53 years remaining for petroleum, with up to 200 years left for natural gas. Besides, the burning of fossil fuels has contributed to climate change.

    The cost of obtaining, transporting, and using fossil fuels is becoming prohibitive, especially on a worldwide basis. Fossil fuel use leads to carbon emissions and rising global temperatures. Air pollution shortens lives around the world: not just human beings, but also animal and plant lives. The oceans are becoming increasingly polluted, and carbon dioxide in seawater is contributing to the degradation of corals, shellfish, and food webs. Drilling for oil and procedures like fracking also contributes to pollution and environmental degradation. The reasons for renewable energy are so many, and it is hard to understand why some people continue to rely upon fossil fuels without consideration of renewable sources.

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    New Brunswick is in an excellent position to invest in more renewable energy. With wind and hydro already in place, the province can add solar energy and look toward a clean, renewable, energy-independent future. Invest locally in renewable energy in New Brunswick / Fredericton. Naveco Power is ready and able to develop solar and wind projects in New Brunswick to deliver clean energy, local jobs, and build the local economy.

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