The Canadian Renewable Energy Association (CanREA) has completed its analysis of year-end 2022 data, finding that Canada’s wind and solar energy sectors grew by 10.5% last year.
“Canada now has an installed capacity of more than 19 GW of utility-scale wind and solar energy, having added more than 1.8 GW of new generation capacity in 2022,” says Phil McKay, CanREA’s senior director, technical and utility affairs.
Solar is growing particularly quickly: More than one quarter of all the installed capacity in Canada was added in 2022 alone.
Western Canada accounted for 98% of Canada’s total growth in 2022, with Alberta adding 1,391 MW and Saskatchewan adding 387 MW of installed capacity. Quebec contributed 24 MW to the total growth for 2022, Ontario 10 MW and Nova Scotia 2 MW.
As it grows, the renewables sector is emerging as an important force for job creation, primarily in the construction of new facilities, but also in the ongoing operations and maintenance of these sites. Canada’s wind and solar industry accounted for approximately 4,462 person-years of employment in 2022, having grown by an impressive 86%.
“Growth in the renewables sector means job growth for Canadians,” says McKay, “and we are anticipating these employment opportunities to keep expanding exponentially as the renewables industry continues to grow.”
While last year’s growth of 1.8 GW was significantly larger than in 2021 (< 1 GW), it does not meet the growth rate called for in CanREA’s 2050 Vision, Powering Canada’s Journey to Net-Zero, which states that Canada needs to deploy more than 5 GW of new wind and solar energy every year to meet its commitment to net-zero GHG emissions by 2050.
“Canada is just starting to take advantage of its wind and solar energy potential,” says Vittoria Bellissimo, CanREA’s president and CEO. “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.”
Significantly more growth in the deployment of wind and solar energy can be expected in the near future. CanREA’s data team is tracking more than 2 GW of projects that are currently under construction across Canada, plus another 6 GW of projects in advanced stages of development, for a total forecast of more than 5 GW of wind, 2 GW of major solar and 1 GW of energy storage expected in the next few years.
At the same time, CanREA is working with federal and provincial governments to unlock many more gigawatts of additional opportunities in their jurisdictions.
“CanREA is working hard to dramatically accelerate and expand the deployment of wind, solar and energy-storage technologies – there are several policy, regulatory and infrastructure barriers that we think need to be addressed,” says Bellissimo.
In the solar sector specifically:
- Solar energy grew by 25.9% (810 MW) in 2022, to a new total installed capacity of nearly 4 GW;
- More than a quarter of Canada’s current solar capacity was installed in 2022;
- Alberta accounts for almost all this growth, with 759 MW of 771 MW. Saskatchewan installed 10 MW, Nova Scotia 2 MW, and Yukon 0.1 MW this year;
- As of Dec. 31, 2022, Ontario had more than 1.9 GW of installed solar PV capacity, powering nearly 517,000 homes.