Market Snapshot: Canada’s electricity demand is increasing steadily

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Release date: 2020-08-19

In 2018, total Canadian electricity demand increased by 2.8% compared to the previous year. This continued the long-term trend of Canadian electricity demand steadily increasing. Electricity demand growth is driven by variables such as economic and population growth, and energy efficiency. Between 2017 and 2018, most of the growth was fueled by the industrial and residential sectors in Quebec, and the industrial sector in Ontario.

Figure 1. Canadian electricity demand by economic sector

Source and Description

Source: Statistics Canada, Table 25-10-0029-01

Description: This chart shows electricity demand by economic sector and by province, from 1995 to 2018. It includes the agricultural sector, the commercial and other institutional sectors, the industrial sector, public administration, the residential sector, and the transportation sector. In 2018, the industrial and residential sectors made up the largest share of Canada’s electricity demand, with 38% and 31%, respectively. In 2018, national demand for electricity amounted to 551 306 gigawatt-hours.

Demand for electricity varies significantly between provinces and economic sectors. In 2018, the industrial sector made up 38% of Canada’s total electricity demand, while residential demand was 31%, commercial and other institutional 25%, public administration 3%, agriculture 2%, and transportation 1%.

The difference in electricity demand between provinces is primarily explained by the relative importance of different economic sectors, and by market factors such as the relative advantages of different fuel types. For example, provinces with relatively low electricity prices rely more heavily on electricity for space heating and other household uses, while other provinces rely more on natural gas.

Currently, the transportation sector makes up a small share of electricity demand, mostly from energy used by pipelines and urban transit. However, electric vehicles, whose costs are projected to go down, could change this trend in the future.

The long-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on electricity consumption remains uncertain. In the short term, it has contributed to a decline in electricity consumption across Canada, as highlighted for Ontario and Alberta.

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