Canada’s Energy Future, including Net-Zero Analysis: Approach and Scenarios Discussion Paper

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About the Canada Energy Regulator

The mission of the Canada Energy Regulator (CER) is to regulate infrastructure to ensure safe and efficient delivery of energy to Canada and the world, protecting the environment, recognizing and respecting the rights of the Indigenous peoples of Canada, and providing timely and relevant energy information and analysis.

The CER produces relevant, accessible, and transparent publications, data, tools, and expert advice on Canada's energy system and CER-regulated facilities. Find out more on our website.

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About the Canada’s Energy Future Report

A key publication of the CER’s energy information core responsibility is Canada’s Energy Future. Canada’s Energy Future is a series of reports that explore possible energy futures for Canadians over the long term. It analyzes and provides data for all provinces and territories, and all energy commodities like crude oil, natural gas, electricity, renewables, and more. It uses economic and energy models to make projections about how the future might unfold, while making assumptions about certain trends, including climate policies, technology, and consumer behaviour.

The CER has a long history (including as the National Energy Board) of doing long-term energy supply and demand outlooks. The first such outlook was published in 1967. The latest version of Canada’s Energy Future was published in December of 2021 (EF2021).

The CER’s analysis is increasingly focused on exploring what Canada’s energy transition to a low-carbon economy could look like in the long term. The Canada’s Energy Future 2021 report, aside from updating the main scenarios (Current Policies and Evolving Policies), introduced six new scenarios to explore a net-zeroFootnote1 future. Specifically, these scenarios explored what Canada’s electricity system might look like in a net-zero world under different assumptions about future technologies, climate policies, and electricity use.

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Exploring Net-zero in the Next Canada’s Energy Future Report

In December 2021, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Natural Resources and the Minister responsible for the CER, wrote a letter to the Chairperson of the CER’s Board of Directors, Cassie Doyle. The letter requested that the CER undertake scenario analysis consistent with Canada achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 as soon as possible.

In her response, Chairperson Doyle both welcomed the clarity provided by the Minister’s letter, and confirmed the next Canada’s Energy Future report will include modelling consistent with Canada’s commitment to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

In the spring of 2022, Chairperson Doyle provided an update to the Minister on the progress of the next Canada’s Energy Future report. The update described the CER’s scenario approach and specified that the report will be released in the Spring of 2023.

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Purpose of this Engagement

The purpose of this engagement initiative is to gather feedback on our approach to the next Energy Futures report. Your responses to the questions below will inform how the scenarios, assumptions, and methodologies are developed. This engagement is also an opportunity to inform interested Canadians about the high-level approach to the next report, including how the net-zero analysis will be conducted.

Your answers will help the CER obtain:

  • High-level feedback on the modelling approach and preliminary assumptions;
  • Insights about alternative modelling scenarios that are of interest to Canadians; and
  • Any other input, suggestion, or feedback that could enhance the content of the report.

Canada’s Energy Future is part of the CER’s Energy Information Core Responsibility and is separate from the CER’s role in regulating energy infrastructure in Canada. As such, this engagement initiative is not a regulatory proceeding or inquiry, but rather an avenue for the CER to gather feedback to improve the energy information it provides to Canadians.

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The Scenario Approach

The next Canada’s Energy Future report will include two sets of scenarios:

  1. Net-zero analysis exploring multiple pathways to net-zero for Canada.

    Research and discussions with experts suggest that using scenarios to explore uncertainties in reaching net-zero improves the credibility and relevance of the analysis. The CER is proposing to develop scenarios where Canada achieves its net-zero goals under different assumptions about the future, including where the world achieves the Paris Agreement goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.

  2. A scenario to provide a baseline for comparison to net-zero, based on existing policies or announced but not yet finalized policies with enough detail available for modeling purposes.

    The premise of this scenario will be similar to the Current Policies Scenario in EF2021. This scenario would enable a comparison of how different energy systems, technological developments, investment needs, and other economic indicators would differ between our current energy system and the net-zero scenarios.

To focus efforts on net-zero analysis, the Evolving Policies Scenario will not be updated.

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Help us shape the next Energy Futures Report

Provide your technical expertise

Contribute answers to any six topic areas, including methodology and analysis.

Complete the survey

General questions or ideas?

Submit your general feedback, questions, or ideas for the next Energy Futures Report at energyfutures@cer-rec.gc.ca.

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