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Market Snapshot: Canada’s economic output and energy consumption continue to decouple

Release date: 2018-11-07

Energy intensity is a country’s energy consumption divided by economic output. It provides an indication of how much energy is needed to produce one unit of economic output (or $ of gross domestic product). Canada’s energy intensity has been declining over the long term, because Canada’s economy has grown faster than energy demand. As outlined in Canada’s Energy Future 2018 (EF2018), this trend is projected to continue.

In EF2018’s Reference Case, energy intensity drops 28% from 2017 to 2040, or 1.4% per year. EF2018’s Technology Case, which explores how low carbon technology could impact Canadian energy supply and demand, shows Canada’s energy intensity in 2040 could be almost 45% lower than in 2017.

Energy intensity is lower for all provinces and territories in the Technology Case relative to the Reference Case, although the extent varies. The Technology Case has the largest impact in Alberta, where energy intensity falls an additional 22 percentage points from the Reference Case. Nunavut has the smallest drop, where energy intensity falls an additional 14 percentage points from the Reference Case. This trend is driven by energy efficient technology such as heat pumps and, in Alberta, solvents replacing steam to extract bitumen from the oil sands.

These technology changes cause total Canadian energy consumption to be nearly 18 percentage points lower than the Reference Case in 2040 despite continued economic and population growth.

The graph below illustrates energy intensity for all Canadian provinces and territories in the Reference and Technology Cases. To explore how energy intensity is projected to change in the different regions of Canada, simply click on the provinces and territories to bring up the corresponding chart.

Source and Description

Source: EF2018

Description: This chart compares energy use per $GDP in the Reference and Technology Cases relative to 2017. By 2040 Canadian energy intensity is projected to drop by 28% in the Reference Case and 45% in the Technology Case.

Alberta’s energy intensity is projected to drop by 27% in the Reference Case and 49% in the Technology Case.

British Columbia’s energy intensity is projected to drop by 26% in the Reference Case and 41% in the Technology Case.

Manitoba’s energy intensity is projected to drop by 25% in the Reference Case and 37% in the Technology Case.

New Brunswick’s energy intensity is projected to drop by 25% in the Reference Case and 38% in the Technology Case.

Newfoundland and Labrador’s energy intensity is projected to drop by 27% in the Reference Case and 39% in the Technology Case.

Northwest Territories’ energy intensity is projected to drop by 23% in the Reference Case and 34% in the Technology Case.

Nova Scotia’s energy intensity is projected to drop by 31% in the Reference Case and 42% in the Technology Case.

Nunavut’s energy intensity is projected to drop by 17% in the Reference Case and 31% in the Technology Case.

Ontario’s energy intensity is projected to drop by 30% in the Reference Case and 46% in the Technology Case.

Prince Edward Island’s energy intensity is projected to drop by 35% in the Reference Case and 45% in the Technology Case.

Quebec’s energy intensity is projected to drop by 30% in the Reference Case and 41% in the Technology Case.

Saskatchewan’s energy intensity is projected to drop by 24% in the Reference Case and 49% in the Technology Case.

Yukon’s energy intensity is projected to drop by 25% in the Reference Case and 34% in the Technology Case.

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