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Energy Efficiency Trends in Canada, 1990 to 2008

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Chapter 2: Energy Use

Overview — Energy use and GHG emissions

The industrial sector accounts for the largest share of energy use and is second in terms of GHG emissions in Canada.

Energy is used in all five sectors of the economy: residential, commercial, industrial, transportation, and agriculture. In 2008, these sectors used a total of 8,720.2 PJ of energy. The industrial sector accounted for the largest share of energy followed by transportation, residential, commercial/institutional and agriculture. Total GHG emissions associated with the energy use of the five sectors was 487.8 Mt in 2008.

Figures 2.1 and 2.2 show the distribution of secondary energy use and GHG emissions by sector. Energy consumed by transportation and agriculture sectors is relatively more GHG intensive than the other sectors.

Figure 2.1 — Secondary energy use by sector, 2008 (percent).

One petajoule is approximately equal to the energy used by almost 9,000 households in one year (excluding transportation).

Figure 2.2 — GHGs by sector, 2008 (percent).

Natural gas and electricity are the main types of end-use energy purchased in Canada.

Natural gas and electricity are used in all sectors of the economy while motor gasoline is mainly used in the transportation and agriculture sectors. In 2008, natural gas and electricity accounted for almost half the energy used in Canada (Figure 2.3). Motor gasoline and other oil products (diesel fuel oil, light fuel oil, kerosene and heavy fuel oil), represented approximately 33 percent of energy usage.

Figure 2.3 — Secondary energy use by fuel, 2008 (percent).

Trends — Energy use and GHG emissions

Energy use grew less rapidly than the economy, but more rapidly than the population.

Between 1990 and 2008, energy use in Canada increased by 26 percent, from 6,936.2 PJ to 8,720.2 PJ (Figure 2.4). At the same time, the Canadian population grew 20 percent (approximately 1 percent per year), and GDP increased 62 percent (about 3 percent per year). More generally, energy use per unit of GDP declined, while energy use on a per capita basis increased.

Figure 2.4 — Total secondary energy use, Canadian population and GDP, 1990–2008.

Energy use has been growing at the fastest rate in the transportation and commercial/institutional sectors.

Figure 2.5 — Total secondary energy use and growth by sector, 1990 and 2008.

The industrial sector uses the most energy in our economy, consuming 3,237.8 PJ of energy in 2008. However, energy use growth in the commercial/institutional and transportation sectors outpaced all other sectors.

Figure 2.6 — Total GHG emissions and growth by sector, 1990 and 2008.

Over the 1990–2008 period, the commercial/institutional sector registered a 39 percent increase in energy use (Figure 2.5), driven mainly by a 179 percent increase in auxiliary equipment energy use. Transportation energy use grew by 38 percent primarily due to a 71 percent growth in freight energy use.

Growth in energy use was reflected in the growth of GHG emissions. Consequently, the commercial/institutional sector experienced the highest growth in emissions at 38 percent followed closely by the transportation sector at 36 percent (Figure 2.6).

The transportation sector accounted for the largest proportion, 37 percent, of energy related emissions (179.4 Mt carbon dioxide equivalent [CO2e]), followed by the industrial sector, 32 percent (154.0 Mt CO2e), including electricity-related emissions. This difference in the shares of energy and emissions is driven by the dominance of refined petroleum products in the transportation sector providing for a more GHG-intensive energy mix.

Energy intensity and efficiency

Canada improved its energy efficiency between 1990 and 2008. The following section discusses two indicators of energy efficiency: energy intensity and an energy efficiency measure using factorization.

Energy intensity

Canada’s energy intensity improved 22 percent between 1990 and 2008. Despite this improvement, per capita energy use increased 5 percent.

Energy intensity, when defined as the amount of energy required per unit of activity (GDP), improved 22 percent between 1990 and 2008 (Figure 2.7). This reduction in energy intensity reflects an overall improvement in energy efficiency, which is how effectively energy is being used in producing one unit of GDP. More simply, if the economy in 2008 had produced the same level of GDP that it did in 1990, it would have used much less energy.

Figure 2.7 — Total secondary energy use intensity per capita and unit of GDP, 1990–2008.

Conversely, the amount of energy required per capita, which is the energy intensity for each individual, increased 5 percent between 1990 and 2008 (Figure 2.7). This upward trend in part reflects the increasing use of electronic goods, increasing ownership of passenger light trucks and increasing distance and weight of goods transported by heavy trucks. In other words, although Canada is producing economic value more efficiently, each household is using a greater number of energy-consuming goods and services per capita compared to 1990. This is despite the fact that many electronic goods have become increasingly energy-efficient since 1990.

Energy efficiency

Energy efficiency improved 18 percent since 1990. These improvements reduced energy use by approximately 1,205.9 PJ, decreased GHG emissions by 67.3 Mt and saved Canadians $26.9 billion in 2008.

One of the greatest sources of untapped energy is the energy we waste. Isolating and tracking energy efficiency in the Canadian economy is carried out in a conscious effort to publicize this energy resource. This analysis examines all areas of the economy to determine what would have happened had there been no improvements and to identify, from the underlying data, areas that can continue to improve energy efficiency.

Energy efficiency refers to how effectively energy is used to provide a certain level of service or output. To isolate the effect of energy efficiency in the economy, as well as in individual sectors, the analysis uses a factorization method. Factorization separates the changes in the amount of energy used into five effects: activity, structure, weather, service level, and energy efficiency.

  • activity effect — Activity is defined differently in each sector. For example, in the residential sector, it is defined as the number of households and the floor space of residences. In the industrial sector, it is defined as industrial GDP, gross output (GO) and physical industrial output, such as tonnes of steel.

  • structure effect — Structure refers to changes in the makeup of each sector. For example, in the industrial sector, a relative increase in activity in one industry over another is considered a structural change.

  • weather effect — Fluctuations in weather lead to changes in heating and cooling requirements. This is measured in terms of heating and cooling degree-days. This effect is taken into account in the residential and commercial/institutional sectors, where heating and cooling account for a significant share of energy use.

  • service level effect — Service level refers to the penetration rate of devices and equipment. For example, the term denotes use of auxiliary equipment in commercial/institutional buildings and appliances in homes, or the amount of cooled floor space. Although these devices are becoming more efficient, the addition of more devices would represent an increase in service levels, which has tended to offset these gains in efficiency.

  • energy efficiency effect — Energy efficiency refers to how effectively energy is being used, that is, using less energy to provide the same level of energy service. Energy efficiency gains occur primarily with improvements in technology or processes. An example would be insulating a home to use less energy for heating and cooling or replacing incandescent lights with fluorescent lights.

As Figure 2.8 indicates, without significant ongoing improvements in energy efficiency in end-use sectors, energy use would have increased 43 percent between 1990 and 2008, instead of 26 percent. These energy savings of 1,205.9 PJ are equivalent to the energy use of about 20 million cars and passenger light trucks in 2008.

Figure 2.8 — Secondary energy use, with and without energy efficiency improvements, 1990–2008.

Figure 2.9 illustrates the relative impact of each effect on energy use over the 1990–2008 period for the economy as a whole.

The following is a summary of and rationale for the results:

  • activity effect — Canada’s GDP grew 62 percent between 1990 and 2008. The overall growth in activity effect is estimated to have increased energy use by 42 percent, or 2,943.3 PJ, with a corresponding 161.4 Mt increase in GHG emissions.

  • structure effect — Over the 1990–2008 period, a shift in production toward industries that are less energy intensive resulted in a decrease of 242.1 PJ and a 6.5-Mt decrease in GHG emissions.

  • weather effect — In 2008, the winter was colder but the summer was warmer than that of 1990. The result was an overall increase in energy demand for temperature control of 34.3 PJ and a 1.8-Mt increase in GHG emissions.

  • service level effect — From 1990 to 2008, changes in service level (e.g. increased use of computers, printers and photocopiers in the commercial/institutional sector) raised energy use by 185.0 PJ, and increased GHG emissions by 9.8 Mt.

  • energy efficiency effect — As noted above, improvements in energy efficiency saved 1,205.9 PJ of energy and 67.3 Mt of GHG emissions from 1990 to 2008.

Figure 2.9 — Impact of activity, structure, service level, weather and energy efficiency effects on the change in energy use, 1990–2008.

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