Utilities Electricity Canada Industry Structure and Outlook

  • The Canadian electricity industry has surplus generation capacity and a balanced supply-demand scenario for meeting the domestic need and exports
  • The generation in 2016 was 648 TWh, with majority generation share coming from hydro power plants, and renewable contribution to generation is fast growing
  • The installed capacity is expected to rise at a CAGR of 2-3 percent from 2016 to 2020 in the coming years, as close to 3,000 MW of hydro projects are under construction
  • Canada has a well-developed infrastructure for power industry, and the provincial authorities have proposed high voltage transmission capacity additions close to 4,750 MW by 2030 to incorporate more renewable energy sources across provinces

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Supply and Demand

  • Canada enjoys an energy surplus situation with almost all the provinces having its own major utility giants, generating electricity for themselves and trading across the provinces and also to the US
  • The electricity supply to end-use consumer in the regulated provinces is mainly undertaken by provincial crown utilities or other municipal distribution
  • In deregulated provinces of Ontario and Alberta, private distributors also undertake electricity supply
  • The demand is expected to rise by 0.3-0.5 percent CAGR from 2017 to 2019, while the supply will grow by 1-1.5 percent CAGR during the same period
  • Electricity export from Canada has reached record levels in 2016 despite the fall in export prices to C$38.49/MWh from C$43.63/MWh in 2015

Industry Structure

Fuel Mix

  • Major mode of electricity generation is using hydro-based resources, and it accounts for more than 60 percent of the total generation in the country
  • The share of renewable energy capacity was 9.2 percent during 2014, but the share in generation was nearly 3 percent, due to the intermittent nature of the renewable energy sources
  • Natural gas capacity increased in the Alberta province, owing to lower gas prices, but future additions are uncertain, as the lower oil prices affect industrial demand in the region
  • The government’s initiative to phase out coal is expected to increase the contribution of natural gas in the fuel mix in the medium to long term

Generation and Consumption Profile 

  • Power trade happens between the US and Canada via well connected, transmission grid across the border in different regions and excess energy is exported to the US
  • The transmission and distribution loss in Canada was 9 percent in 2014, while during the same period, loss in the US was 6 percent
  • The industrial sector is likely to remain the highest energy consumer, as more energy-intensive industries will come up across different provinces as a part of industrial development in the country
  • Rapid implementation of energy-efficient technologies and small-scale renewable generation in the residential and commercial sectors will limit the demand growth in these sectors

Electricity Suppliers Market Landscape 

  • The top five electric generation utilities cover up to nearly 60 percent of the total installed capacity
  • Hydro Quebec, the largest utility has a share of 26 percent of the total installed capacity, and it dominates the power generation share and has the highest revenue share
  • TransAlta, an investor-owned company, ranks fourth in generation capacity in Canada, nearly 6,600 MW is the installed capacity across Canada

Price Drivers 

  • Hydro reservoir level, fuel prices and cooling, and HDDs are the major factors influencing the Canadian power prices
  • In the future, the renewable energy generation is likely to have a greater impact on prices, as global technological developments have brought down the generation cost significantly