Canada is a huge producer and supplier of energy and electricity, specially to USA. USA imports maximum energy from Canada to fulfill its needs. The country is ranked among the top five energy producers in the world, producing energy both conventionally and unconventionally using oil, hydroelectricity, and gas.
Canada main exports of this huge energy production that is above 18 quadrillion Btu is made to USA that largely depends on Canada for its energy requirements. Canada is also looking forward to explore Asian markets as well besides exporting its energy to USA.
The main sources of this energy production are hydro, petroleum, natural gas, coal, nuclear and other non-hydro renewable.
A recent energy Consumption Chart by Type
Natural Gas: 22%
Nuclear : 7%
Non-hydro Renewable : 5%
Here is a brief overview of Canada’s Energy Sources
Canada is the sixth top producer of oil and the main exporters to USA industries and refineries. The recent rise in production is mainly due to synthetic production of crude oil from the reserves found in Alberta Oil Sands.
With estimated reserves of over 173 billion barrels oil reserves, Canada is ranked as the 3rd largest controller of oil reserves on planet. The other main proven oil reserves holders are Venezuela and Saudi Arabia. Although its reserves are a bit at a decline as noticed from 2003, but the availability of recoverable sand oil reserves in Canada that approximately amounts to over one-seventy billion barrels improved the state of affairs. Other sources for oil in Canada are researched to be available in the Arctic under the Beaufort Sea, some reserves in off pacific coastal region and in St.Lawrence Gulf.
Oil or Tar Sands
Alberta is the main source of Oil Sands reserves, most of them available in Athabasca. These oil reserves are also termed as ‘tar sands’. The recovery of oil from these sand oil reserves requires unconventional methods and techniques.
Two major methods for extracting petroleum reserves are:
- Traditional Pit-Mining on Surface
- In Situ Underground Production
Surface mining is the main source of oil sands oil reserve availability. Steam injection in underground formations is also done for softening the bitumen. Later it is pumped to the surface above via wells. The two main techniques used in Situ Extraction are Cyclic-Steam Simulation and Steam Assisted Gravity-Drainage. The expensive techniques involved in these oil sands reserve extractions make its breakeven point comparatively higher.
Canada ranked third in the world for its production of dry Natural gas. Besides other countries like Norway, Qatar, and Russia as natural gas exporting countries, Canada is the fourth largest natural gas exporter. It is looking forward for increasing exports of LNG, the liquid natural gas. It has been noticed that exports of natural gas to USA has fallen in past few years.
Natural Gas Reserves
Canada holds an estimated amount of around sixty-one trillion cubic-feet as of 2012 that is a little lower than the past years reserves. The offshore fields that are located near eastern shore carry the significant proportion of these reserves. Besides conventional reserves, the unconventional reserves exist as coal-bed methane shale-gas (CBM) and tight gas in the WCSB. The recoverable shale gas reserves are estimated to be present at about 390 tcf as technically recoverable gas resource.
Electricity Generation and Capacity
Canada mainly produces hydroelectricity that sums up to around 60% of total electricity generation that roughly above 590 billion KWh (kilowatthours). The other method for electricity generation involves thermal power-plants that is coal based, the remainder of which attributes mostly to natural gas and the rest to oil. The installed electricity system capacity is estimated roughly above 150gigawatts, of which around 50% is generated through hydroelectric dams.
Canada is a net exporter of electricity to the United States, and most of its power needs are met by hydroelectricity.
Canada generated an estimated 580 billion kilowatthours (kWh) of electricity in 2010, of which sixty percent was hydroelectric. Only China and Brazil produce more hydroelectricity than Canada. Conventional thermal power plants satisfy most of Canada’s electricity needs not met by hydroelectricity. According to International Energy Agency statistics, approximately two-thirds of Canada’s conventional thermoelectric generation is fueled by coal, with most of the remainder attributable to natural gas and a small amount of oil.
Canada had an estimated 132 gigawatts (GW) of installed electricity generation capacity in 2009. Hydroelectric dams accounted for approximately 75 GW of that total, including one of the largest hydroelectric complexes in the world, the James Bay Project on Quebec’s La Grande River. Canada is also a large and growing producer of wind energy, due in part to supportive policies at the federal and provincial levels. According to the Canadian Wind Energy Association, Canada’s wind capacity was 5.5 GW as of mid-2012, including 2.0 GW in Ontario alone. One interesting thing to note is that both Canadian and US electricity grid networks are technologically integrated with each other as US imports mainly depends on Canadian electricity generation.