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OTTAWA, ON, July 19, 2023 – The Public Policy Forum today released a new report that calls electrification the number one national project of the 21st century, dwarfing the ambitions of previous centuries, including even the construction of the Canadian Pacific railways, the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Trans-Canada Highway.
The report, titled Project of the Century: A blueprint for growing Canada’s clean electricity supply – and fast, provides a roadmap for the urgent twin electrification challenges of creating abundant supply, as well as clean supply.
Electricity demand is forecast to double by 2050; supply capacity will have to grow an astounding 2.2 to 3.4 times of today’s volume. While Canada has adopted a slew of policies designed to shift energy consumption toward electricity, most notably in favour of electric vehicles, the pressing question remains: where will all that clean supply come from?
Among the report’s key messages:
Canadians are not prepared for the shock of moving from electricity abundance to scarcity;
If we don’t ensure that affordability and reliability of supply stand alongside cleanliness as fundamental values of the electricity transition, we put our net zero goal at risk;
Provinces are the most important players in electrification, and each has its own unique challenges; three provinces and two territories actually have more emissions in their systems than China and Russia;
This doesn’t happen without Indigenous partnership as equity owners in projects, and that doesn’t happen without easier access to capital on competitive terms;
We are behind where we need to be to achieve a near-zero grid in 2035 or a net zero economy and society by 2050. We need faster policy-making and regulatory streamlining;
We need an industrial strategy that sequences electrification initiatives, putting energy efficiency and transportation first, then industry, then home heating; and
We need a realistic assessment of how labour shortages and broken supply chains for minerals will affect Canada’s energy transition. These are major impediments.
“Electricity is the foundation stone of the energy transition,” said Edward Greenspon, President and CEO of the Public Policy Forum, and one of the report authors. “Canada has to build the equivalent of one or two more of everything developed over the past century if supply is to catch up with the demand we’re already stimulating as well as to achieve our net-zero goals.”
“The impossible is always possible but it will require us to get into a hurry-up offense by acknowledging provincial paramountcy, facilitating Indigenous ownership, reforming approval processes, accepting the need for transitional fuels and intelligently sequencing where new electricity supplies should go first, second and third,” Mr. Greenspon said. “Electrification is a worthy and necessary nation-building goal. We will need unprecedented policy coherence for Canada to meet the moment.”
This report arose from PPF’s Energy Future Forum, a project launched in 2019 to identify practical measures that help Canada meet or exceed its 2030 emissions targets on the way to a net zero future, and that strengthen an innovative economy, deepen shared prosperity and enhance national unity. The Energy Future Forum includes leaders from business and government, along with academic, environmental and Indigenous organizations, comprising participants from across Canada.
For further information: Alison Uncles, Vice-President, PPF Media and Communications, Public Policy Forum, email@example.com