Green Technology

New Canada Energy Regulator report projects the real net-zero future—and what it means for Canada


OTTAWA — Evan Pivnick, clean energy program manager at Clean Energy Canada, made the following statement in response to the Canada Energy Regulator’s latest energy outlook, Canada’s Energy Future 2023

“For the first time, the Canada Energy Regulator has released projections for the future Canada and its trading partners are building for: a net-zero 2050. By adopting the International Energy Agency’s key assumptions for such a scenario, in particular the price of oil and gas in a world that achieves net-zero emissions by 2050, Canada can have a more serious, informed conversation about what opportunities and challenges lie ahead—and how to plan for them.

“On the one hand, this allows us to better appreciate the scale of clean growth. In Clean Energy Canada’s recent net-zero analysis, which like the Canada Energy Regulator relied on the IEA’s net-zero oil price, Canada sees 700,000 more energy jobs in 2050 than exist today if countries around the world achieve their stated climate goals, as growth in clean energy jobs outpaces the decline in fossil fuels.

“And on the other hand, better data lets us be clear-eyed about what net zero actually means, not only for oil but for the fossil fuels sometimes still touted as ‘transition fuels’—such as LNG. In a world that achieves net-zero 2050, the regulator assumes that total LNG export volumes are met with production from only LNG Canada Phase 1 and Woodfibre LNG, with no need for further production capacity. Continued expansion of LNG beyond this is a bet that the world won’t achieve net zero—and risks exposing Canadians to the costs of stranded assets.

“A few other points are worth highlighting. The regulator makes it clear that the electricity sector is the backbone of achieving net zero in its scenarios. The federal government’s forthcoming Clean Electricity Regulations play a critical role in realizing this, helping ensure all new electricity generation going forward has zero, low, or even negative emissions.

“Wind power, the biggest contributor to new power generation in a net-zero 2050, increases ninefold from current levels. This is consistent with Clean Energy Canada’s analysis of wind power in Ontario and Alberta, which found that wind can already produce electricity at lower costs than natural-gas-fired power with even more cost reductions on the horizon. Pairing wind and batteries expands the role wind can play even further, still at a competitive cost.

“Ultimately, while the global energy transition will drive much of the demand for clean energy and the decline of fossil fuels, the regulator’s work also makes clear that Canadian policy choices matter deeply. 

“Moving forward, governments and industries need to ask themselves the question that will define our next two decades: if the political decisions and investments we make today don’t line up with a net-zero 2050—a goal we and our largest trading partners have committed to—what opportunities might fail to materialize and which ones might we miss out on? It’s our choice to keep our eyes on the road ahead.”

KEY FACTS

  • In Alberta and Ontario, wind can now produce electricity at lower costs than natural-gas-fired power with even more cost reductions on the horizon. Even when the costs of battery storage are included, both wind and solar are cost-competitive in many scenarios, a recent Clean Energy Canada report found.
  • Canada will see 700,000 more energy jobs in 2050 than exist today if Canada (and the world) reaches net zero, according to a Clean Energy Canada study that modelled Canadian energy jobs en route to a net-zero 2050. The report found that while there will be a 1.5-million job decline in fossil fuels in a net-zero 2050, this is far exceeded by the 2.2-million job increase in clean energy as employment in the sector grows 7% a year out to 2050.
  • Global employment in clean energy recently surpassed fossil fuels for the first time, accounting for almost all growth in energy employment in recent years.
  • Investment in clean energy has also surpassed fossil fuels, with almost two thirds of total global energy spending estimated to flow into the clean energy sector this year.
  • Last year, the International Energy Agency noted that the world was set to add as much renewable power in the next five years as it did in the previous 20 years—a third more than had been forecast just a year earlier.

RESOURCES

Report | A Pivotal Moment

Report | A Renewables Powerhouse