Zero Carbon Energy by 2050?

In case you haven’t heard, Canada is moving towards being net zero emissions by the year 2050.

According to the Government of Canada, “net zero emissions means our economy either emits no greenhouse gas emissions or offsets its emissions, for example, through actions such as tree planting or employing technologies that can capture carbon before it is released into the air.”

According to data from Our World In Data, in Canada in 2019 the Total Terawatt Hours (TWh) for all energy consumption is 3951.5 TWh.

Non renewables (oil, coal and gas) makes up 2610.4 TWh or 66.1%.

Renewables/Zero Emission sources (Biomass, Hydro, Nuclear, Solar, Wind, Biofuels) make up 1341.1 TWh or 33.9%.

Of the Renewables, Hydro and Nuclear make up 1195.6 TWh or 30.3% all the others (Biomass, Solar, Wind and Biofuels) mark up  145.5 TWh or 3.6%.

In order to get to net zero carbon emission by 2050 or 29 years from now Canada will have to use renewable energy with zero emissions for transportation, heating/cooling and anything else. Or we will have to plant a bunch of trees or get carbon capture technologies to work.

Let’s look at the impact on this.  

For ease of argument, I am going to use 2019 figures. So Gas, Oil and Coal will be done by 2050 as they emit carbon which means that Biomass, Hydro, Nuclear, Solar, Wind and  Biofuels will have to make up the difference which means they have to make up 2610.4 TWh.

You may be aware that the current government killed capital projects with Bill C-69, which means that dams for hydro will probably not be built and nuclear plants will not be built. The remaining energy will have to be made up with biomass, solar, wind and biofuels.  This means that renewables will have to make up 2610.4 TWh.

In 2018, biomass, solar, wind and biofuels made up 140 TWh and by 2019 it made up 145.5 TWh which is an increase of 5.5 TWh or a 4% increase. 

Fast forward 29 years or by 2050, at current rates for new renewable energy growth, there would be 651.5 TWH. This would mean that the current demand for energy would be short by 1958.8 TWh.

At a growth rate of 5.5% on 0 emission energy, to get to the additionl 2610.4 TWh, it will take just short of 55 years to reach that or  we will reach this by 2076.

Basically, current growth rates of renewable energy will not get us to the targets that the Government of Canada has mandated. The impact on this will be felt by everyone through food prices, products and services we buy and pretty much everything.

Pretty much the only way that this will happen is if the Government of Canada has a solid game plan in place with quantifiable reductions using todays technology.

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