Canada’s wind and solar capacity grew significantly in 2022, but not enough to hit the growth rate needed to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, new data shows.
“Canada is just starting to take advantage of its wind and solar energy potential,” Vittoria Bellissimo, president and CEO of the Canadian Renewable Energy Association (CanREA), said in a release announcing the renewables sector’s year-end data. “The country needs to do more to unlock the benefits of the enormous opportunities offered by renewable energy. We have massive, untapped wind and solar resources, the lowest-cost sources of new decarbonized electricity generation available today.”
Canada added 1.8 gigawatts of new wind and solar generation capacity last year, compared to less than 1 GW the year before. Nearly all the growth, 98%, was in Western Canada, where Alberta installed 1,291 megawatts and Saskatchewan built 387 MW. Quebec, Ontario, and Nova Scotia added 24, 10, and 2 MW, respectively.
Solar energy posted notable gains, with nearly a quarter of the country’s current solar capacity coming online in 2022 alone. Overall, Canada closed out the year with nearly 15 GW of installed wind energy capacity and more than 4 GW of utility-scale solar, for a total of more than 19 GW of installed renewable energy capacity across the country, says CanREA.
The expanded capacity also meant greater job growth—person-years of employment in the solar and wind industries increased by 86% to roughly 4,462, compared to 2,400 years in 2021.
“Growth in the renewables sector means job growth for Canadians, and we are anticipating these employment opportunities to keep expanding exponentially as the renewables industry continues to grow,” said Phil McKay, CanREA’s senior director, technical and utility affairs.
For the year ahead, CanREA’s data team is keeping tabs on more than 2 GW of projects under construction and another 6 GW in advanced stages of development. The trade association forecasts that more than 5 GW of wind and 2 GW of major solar will be developed in the next few years.
But those numbers lag behind the targets CanREA laid out in its vision for Canada’s path to net-zero, which says the country needs to add 5 GW each year to fully slash emissions by 2050. The industry says it is working with federal and provincial governments to unlock other opportunities to expand renewable capacity.
“While the wind, solar, and energy storage industries are ready to take on the challenge, immediate action is required from legislators, regulators, and other key decision-makers to enable these industries to deliver the results Canada needs,” CanREA writes.