Energy Efficiency Trends in Canada
- Energy efficiency improved 30.6%.
- Canadians saved 2,036.8 PJ or $44.4 billion in energy costs and avoided 110.1 Mt of GHG emissions in 2017.
- Secondary energy use (final energy demand) in Canada increased 30.6%. It would have increased 60% without energy efficiency improvements.
- Canada’s energy intensity per unit of GDP improved 30.4%
Energy use and GHG emissions
Secondary energy use by sector, 2017
|Distribution of energy use||Percentage|
Secondary energy is energy that has been transformed to more convenient forms of energy that can be used directly by society, such as electricity, refined fuels, or synthetic fuels such as hydrogen fuel. Secondary energy is also referred to as energy carrier.
Primary energy is an energy form found in nature that has not been subject to any human-engineered conversion process, therefore it cannot be used directly by the society. It is contained in raw fuels and can be non-renewable (oil, coal, natural gas) or renewable (hydro, biofuels, solar, wind).
GHG emissions by sector, 2017
|Distribution of GHGs||Percentage|
Secondary energy use by fuel type, 2017
|Distribution of energy use||Percentage|
|Other oil products**||14.4|
|Aviation turbo fuel||3.2|
|Petroleum coke and still gas||3.2|
|Wood waste and pulping liquor||4.1|
** Other oil products include diesel fuel oil, light fuel oil, heavy fuel oil and kerosene.
The industrial sector used the most energy, consuming 3,607.4 PJ in 2017.
Energy use in the transportation sector grew 40.7% over the 1990–2017 period, the most rapid of all sectors. A significant increase in freight transportation, continued dominance of passenger vehicles for personal use, and a shift toward larger personal vehicles (SUVs, light-duty trucks) were the principal reasons for the rapid growth of energy use in the transportation sector.
Total energy use and growth by sector, 1990 and 2017 (petajoules)
Canada’s GHG emissions excluding electricity-related emissions increased 34.1% while emissions including electricity-related emissions grew 22.5% between 1990 and 2017.
The increase in GHG emissions was significantly less than would otherwise have been the case because of a notable change in the fuel mix used to generate electricity. In particular, the share of coal used for electricity generation fell from 25% in 2008 to 15% in 2017.
The rapid growth of energy consumption and dominance of GHG-intensive refined petroleum products are the principal reasons for the transportation sector being the highest source of GHG emissions in Canada in 2017.
Total GHG emissions and growth by sector, 1990 and 2017 (Mt CO2e)
Energy intensity is a measure of the energy inefficiency of an economy and calculated as units of energy per GDP. High energy intensities indicate a high cost of converting energy into GDP. Many factors influence overall energy intensity such as standard of living, weather conditions, vehicular distances travelled, methods and patterns of transportation (mass transit), off-grid energy sources, new energy sources, energy disruptions (power blackout) and energy efficiency.
In Canada, energy intensity improved 30.6% between 1990 and 2017, reflecting a significant overall improvement of how effective Canadians used energy to produce GDP.
Final energy use, Canadian population and GDP, 1990–2017 (Index 1990=1)
|Final energy use index||Total GDP index*||Total population index|
The Canadian population grew 32% (approximately 1.0% per year) and the GDP increased 87.6% (about 2.4% per year).
Energy intensity per capita and per unit of GDP, 1990-2017 (Index 1990=1)
|Energy intensity per capita||Energy intensity per GDP|
The International Energy Agency denotes energy efficiency as the world’s “first fuel”. Saving energy has multiple economic and environmental benefits, including being the least-cost option to reduce GHG emissions.
We isolate and track the amount of energy saved through energy efficiency by identifying and measuring the other factors that have an impact on energy use:
- The activity effect is the increase in energy use due to economic growth. Over the 1990–2017 period, the activity effect was 4,546.0 PJ, with a corresponding 241.1-Mt increase in GHG emissions.
- The structure effect is how the changing composition of the economy influences energy use. For example, some industries may have growing subsectors that are more or less energy-intensive than others. Over the 1990–2017 period, less energy-intensive industries (i.e. pulp and paper) became more prevalent in the Canadian economy, reducing energy demand by 700.5 PJ and GHG emissions by 28.0 Mt.
- The weather effect measures the impact of hotter or colder temperatures over time on energy use. In 2017, the winter was slightly warmer than in 1990 and the summer was hotter, resulting in a net energy use increase of 4.0 PJ and 0.2 Mt more GHG emissions.
- The service level effect measures the increased use of equipment in homes and businesses. As the economy has become more digital, energy use has increased both at home and at work. The service level resulted in increased energy use of 168.9 PJ and increased GHG emissions of 7.2 Mt.
- The energy efficiency effect is the balance of the total change in energy use over time (1990–2017) minus the impact of the identified factors above. In 2017, the economy realized 2,036.8 PJ of energy savings and avoided 110.1 Mt of GHG emissions resulting from all energy efficiency measures since 1990.
Summary of factors influencing the change in energy use, 1990–2017
|Total change in energy use||2,132.2|
|Service level effect||168.9|
|Energy efficiency effect||-2,036.8|
Steady increases in activity and, to a lesser degree, service level contributed the most to increased energy use. The structure effect resulting from a shift in production toward industries that are less energy-intensive (i.e. pulp and paper) resulted in a decrease of energy use especially from 2005.
Energy efficiency improvement has been steady since 1990. However, the rate of improvement slowed from 2009 to 2011. This is attributable to the effects of the 2009 recession when the industrial sector faced significant challenges investing in projects to improve energy efficiency.
Historical trends of factors influencing final energy use, 1990-2017
|Activity effect||Structure effect||Weather effect||Service level effect||Energy efficiency effect||Other|
Without significant ongoing improvements in energy efficiency in end-use sectors, energy use would have increased 60% between 1990 and 2017 instead of 30.6%. Energy savings of 2,036.8 PJ are equivalent to the energy use of about 42.8 million passenger vehicles (cars and light trucks) in 2017.
Final energy use, with and without energy efficiency improvements, 1990-2017
|Energy use without energy efficiency improvements||Energy use with energy efficiency improvements|
Over 110.1 Mt of GHG emissions were avoided in 2017 from all energy efficiency improvements in Canada since 1990. The transportation sector was the largest contributor at 52% of total GHG savings, primarily because of ongoing performance standards for passenger vehicles and light-duty trucks. Other factors were awareness and education programs that increased fuel efficiency through maintenance and improved driving habits. The residential sector contributed 27% to the total GHG savings through several mechanisms including enhanced building codes, minimum energy performance standards for appliances, improved energy monitoring systems and home retrofits. The industrial sector contributed about 14% and the commercial/institutional sector 6% of total GHG savings. Investment challenges and limited programs targeting energy use resulted in less improvement in energy efficiency in these two sectors.
GHG savings by sector, 2017