Market Snapshot: Electricity will play a more important role in Canada’s future energy use

Release date: 2018-11-29

The NEB’s latest long-term outlook, Canada's Energy Future 2018 (EF 2018), explores the role of electricity in Canadian end-use demand.

Electricity currently accounts for 40% of total residential energy demand. By 2040, this share grows to 42% in the Reference CaseFootnote 1 and to 51% in the Technology Case.Footnote 2 In the commercial sector, electricity currently makes up 33% of demand. By 2040, this share grows to 37% in the Reference Case and to 49% in the Technology Case. Electrification of space and water heating in those sectors drives the growth of electricity demand.

In Canada, technologies used to heat homes and businesses vary by province and territory. The main type of heating system in a region usually depends on the availability and relative cost of heating fuels. For example, low electricity prices in Quebec encourage electric baseboard heating. In Atlantic Canada, oil furnaces and electric heat are more common, in part due to limited pipeline infrastructure to distribute natural gas.

In provinces that already have a high share of electric space heating, efficiency improvements and heat pumps could reduce electricity use. In provinces like Quebec, replacing electric baseboard heating by heat pumps reduces electricity demand.

In contrast, switching to heat pumps increases electricity demand in some other provinces. Ontario, Alberta, and Saskatchewan largely use natural gas to heat homes and, when this is partially replaced by heat pumps, electricity demand grows because heat pumps run on electricity.

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

Residential and commercial demand by fuel for all Canadian provinces and territories in the
Reference and Technology Cases to 2040

Source and Description

Source: Canada's Energy Future 2018

Description: The column chart on the left shows the annual residential and commercial demand in petajoules (PJ) for every province and territory. In 2017, national end-use demand from these sectors was 2 795 PJ. Most of this demand was met by natural gas. In the technology case, in 2040, demand is projected to decrease to 2 346 PJ. In the reference case, demand is projected to increase to 3 115 PJ.

The second graph shows the share of end-use demand by fuel type. The reader can further break the data down by case, sector, year, or by type of fuel. In 2040 in the reference case, natural gas is projected to be the main fuel, meeting 48% of end-use demand. In the technology case, this share is projected to decrease to 36%, while electricity becomes the main fuel with 49% of end-use demand share. In the residential sector, natural gas and electricity are in a close tie with 45% and 42% of end-use demand share, respectively. In the technology case, electricity becomes the main fuel with a share of 51%, while natural gas’ share decreases to 35%.

The NEB’s Exploring Canada’s Energy Future data visualization tool also provides various ways of looking at electricity demand trends.

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