Market Snapshot: Canada’s agricultural sector is using less energy per dollar of economic output

Release date: 2019-05-22

Canadian agriculture is as diverse as Canada’s geography. As a result, the energy needs of dairy farming in central Canada is not the same as the energy needs of fisheries in Atlantic Canada, nor grain farmers in the Prairies. But the sector is changing. For instance, while the number of agricultural operations is decreasing, their sizes, production levels, and the size of their machinery are increasing.

While energy demand from the agricultural sector is growing overall, the sector is also becoming more fuel efficient like many other Canadian industries. For example, Canadian agricultural energy demand increased from roughly 200 PJ in 1990 to roughly 300 PJ by 2016, but the amount of energy consumed per dollar of agricultural output fell 17%.Footnote 1

The chart below further breaks down agricultural energy needs by province and by fuel source. It also includes a measure of energy intensity over the same time frame.

Canadian agricultural energy demand and energy intensity

Source and Description

Source: Natural Resources Canada, Office of Energy Efficiency

Description: The dual axis chart shows Canadian and provincial energy demand and energy intensity in the agricultural sector from 1990 to 2016. Canadian energy demand in petajoules (PJ) grew from nearly 200 PJ in 1990 to nearly 300 PJ in 2016. The majority of agricultural energy demand comes from diesel fuel oil, motor gasoline, natural gas, and electricity. The energy intensity of agricultural operations decreased from 6 PJ required for each million dollars of gross agricultural output in 1990 to 5 PJ required for each million dollar of gross agricultural output in 2016.

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