The North American Electrical Power Storyboard

Little David and Big Al – who’s doing what in North America

On the basis of land area, Canada and the US are pretty much 50-50 size wise, so global comparison on an Earth land mass basis seems like a good place to start. On the world stage, let’s look at who is doing better in terms of minimizing the percentage of Thermal Carbon based power for the same footprint at this juncture in the 21st Century.

As a starting point, using data published by Statistics Canada (2010), DOE/EIA-0035(2015-03), the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Department of Energy, here’s how it rolls up:


The first thing that hits you is that Canada, in spite of having an Earth stewardship footprint that equals the USA, gets along with only 5% as much Electrical Energy production, in spite of the fact that it is on the cold North Face of the 49th Parallel. Having mostly CO2 swallowing wilderness, forest cover, cultivated land, and one tenth the population of the US spread out along the 49th parallel for warmth also helps.  Below are the pie charts expressing the above energy production by type as percent for each country.



Big Al’s elephant in the room at home in the USA is the towering CO2 thermal production numbers @ 67% of the Big Total that have been immune to efforts re: emission reduction. For little David Canada, he’s fortunate that between Hydro and Nuclear, 76% of Canada’s total electrical production are  already (CO2) emission free. That leaves only 23% as CO2 thermal power emission float to be considered for tailoring. I use CO2 as the common yardstick only because both David and Al seem to agree on that as their major objective. Al has 3 times as much work to do to catch up to David on the CO2 front, footprint wise.

Take Away … (Canada Biased – friends from the US can do their own summary for their turf)

This is a high level look at North America Electrical Power generation in the context of CO2 emissions, and the reality of the Canadian flea on the US Elephant’s back. This article makes no determination on the merits of the CO2 Emission arguments. There is also much more to the story than these high level numbers show. For example, Solar PV above the 49th parallel delivers only low annual energy density and is not really viable as a solution in Canada, so the US has the advantage there. ( Drill down here )

Raw local wind has a similar annual energy density problem unless it gets aggregated by geological considerations (making it very site specific).  Places like PEI already take full advantage of their location to make the best use of wind in Canada at virtually 100% wind renewable, helped by their tiny population, footprint and geography.   It won’t work like that everywhere.

However, in spite of our northern latitude, parts of Canada are able to make excellent use of aggregated solar through nature’s weather cycles and the Canadian (vertical potential) geography via renewable Hydro Generation. Clearly, Canada has already done well in that department, and the graphs show it, thanks to those past political leaders who had the vision and character to follow through. BC is nearly 90% renewable Hydro, Yukon is 94% ,Quebec does 97% and Manitoba is nearly 100%.

Many smaller locations in the High Arctic and rural Canada have no choice but to use CO2 thermal. Applying a carbon tax to any Canadian citizen without first providing an economically survivable alternative infrastructure would be borderline heartless and not thoughtful governance. It would be very un-Canadian. There is definitely not a one size Federal approach that fits all. Not even close.

In Closing …

Finally,  where social politics intersect thoughtful Science, don’t take what anyone says regarding Climate Change (including this) as an axiom without personally cross checking the premises via your own logical and math / fact checking skills. Otherwise, you might unwittingly become a vector amplifying some Gullible Travels mantra, for some nefarious agenda that may not quite be true.