The Canadian Gas Association says building renewable electricity capacity to replace just half of Canada’s current fossil fuel-generated energy could increase national costs by as much as $1.4 trillion over the next 30 years.
In a report, it contends that growing electricity’s contribution to Canada’s energy mix from its current 19 per cent to about 60 per cent will require an expansion from 141 gigawatts today to between 278 and 422 GW of renewable wind, solar and storage capacity by 2050.
It says that will increase national energy costs by between $580 billion and $1.4 trillion between 2020 and 2050, translating into an average increase in Canadian household spending of $1,300 to $3,200 per year.
The study, prepared by consulting firm ICF for the association, assumes electrification begins in 2020 and is applied in all feasible applications by 2050, with investments in the electricity system proceeding as existing natural gas and electric end use equipment reaches normal end of life.
Association CEO Tim Egan says the numbers are “pretty daunting” and support the integration of natural gas with electric instead of using an electric-only option as the most cost-efficient way for Canada to reach environmental policy goals.
But Keith Stewart, senior energy strategist with Greenpeace Canada, says scientists are calling for the world to get to net-zero emissions by 2050 to avoid “catastrophic” levels of warming, so investing in natural gas infrastructure to then shut it down seems a “very expensive option.”