Canadian energy system has significant untapped efficiency savings


18 May 2018

Over a quarter of the energy efficiency savings potential in Canada through 2050 is in the buildings sector (Photograph: Shutterstock)

Energy efficiency has the potential to significantly reduce long-term energy demand in Canada according to a new report released today by the International Energy Agency. Energy Efficiency Potential in Canada to 2050, developed in co-operation with Natural Resources Canada and other Canadian stakeholders, outlines how current policies, combined with economically and technically feasible energy efficiency investments and measures, could deliver final energy savings of 1.9% per year on average through 2050.

The study also assesses impacts of energy efficiency improvements in Canada on energy demand, energy trade, investment, energy bills and emissions. The study found that energy efficiency measures have the potential to keep both primary and final energy demand on a steady decline to 2050, despite rising economic activity. The potential savings would reduce energy demand by around 100 Mtoe by 2050 – more than one-third of total primary energy demand in Canada in 2016.

The greatest energy savings would be in buildings (28%), followed by transport (25%), oil and gas extraction (21%) and industry (12%). The power sector’s potential for additional energy efficiency improvements are relatively more limited.

In buildings, space heating would be the source of the greatest energy savings. The primary catalysts for energy-efficient space heating are “net-zero energy ready” building codes for new buildings, and more stringent codes for existing buildings.

For the road transport sector, the faster deployment of new car designs and measures to improve fuel efficiency, along with further electrification of the fleet would reduce the average on-road, fuel-specific consumption of passenger cars in 2050 to one-third what it is today. Fuel consumption of heavy-duty trucks would be halved.

In industry, energy demand growth from increased economic activity would be more than offset by enhanced energy efficiency, with additional energy demand savings almost evenly split between energy-intensive and non-energy-intensive sectors.

Enhanced energy efficiency effectively mitigates growth in energy demand from oil and gas extraction, despite greater domestic production. The energy saved by 2050 from oil and gas extraction activities alone would be equivalent to the current space heating requirements of the entire Canadian residential sector.

Overall, each additional USD 1 billion invested in energy efficiency would deliver more than 2.3 Mtoe of energy savings, resulting in lower CO₂ emissions, increased trade value, reduced household energy expenses and increased access to energy. CO₂ emissions, for example, would steadily decline from 540 Mt CO₂ today to 380 in 2050.


“Canada is taking steps to ensure a clean energy future through investments in innovation that enhance our economy, create clean jobs and help Canadians save on household energy costs. Energy efficiency is an important part of that equation. We are proud to work with the International Energy Agency to measure Canada’s energy efficiency potential. This is another example of our government’s commitment to evidence-based decision making, ensuring an informed view on the possible energy efficiency gains that could be realized.”

- Jim Carr, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources

“The importance of energy efficiency cannot be overstated - it is the cornerstone of any transition to a cleaner, secure and sustainable energy future. It is central to achieving climate change goals, but also to strengthening energy security, improving access to energy and reducing local air pollution. The IEA is committed to working with countries like Canada to highlight the significant potential of energy efficiency in our shared energy future.”

- Dr Fatih Birol, IEA Executive Director

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