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Canada runs on water power

Water power is establishing itself as the number one asset in reaching Canada's climate change goals, writes Anne-Raphaëlle Audouin, President of WaterPower Canada.

As Canada’s ‘original renewable’, hydropower is woven into the fabric of the country’s rich history with the first hydroelectric generating facility commissioned in 1891 in Ottawa, Ontario. With over 500 hydroelectric generating stations across the nation, providing an abundance of clean electricity storage, waterpower is currently Canada’s largest electricity source; accounting for over 60% of the overall generation, or approximately 81,000 megawatts (MW) of installed capacity from coast-to-coast.

Founded in 1998, WaterPower Canada (WPC) – formerly the Canadian Hydropower Association (CHA) – is the national association dedicated to representing the waterpower industry in Canada. Its many members span the breadth of the sector and include waterpower producers, manufacturers, developers, engineering firms, organizations and individuals. Waterpower Canada members represent more than 90% of the current hydroelectric installed capacity in Canada.

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With a 65% renewable and non-emitting electricity system, Canada has one of the cleanest electricity grids in world; yet a number of challenges could jeopardize present and future hydropower projects and operations in Canada, if not addressed proactively. For this reason, a core component of WaterPower Canada’s mandate is to act as a unified voice, monitoring the pulse of federal policy evolution and advocating on behalf of the industry, ensuring a better, cleaner future for not only its members, but all Canadians. 

Canada is blessed with an abundance of natural resources, and waterpower is establishing itself as the number one asset in reaching the country’s climate change goals and meeting growing clean electricity needs. Due in large part to its tremendous storage, resiliency and response attributes, waterpower is critical to ensuring Canada reaches its clean electrification objectives and supporting the electrification of the economy. With a greater investment and emphasis being placed on the electrification of transportation in Canada, the waterpower industry is ready and able to accelerate Canada’s clean electrification transition, and become the number-one source of clean electricity used to power the electric-vehicle revolution. This area of focus is central to the Association’s activities over the next few years and will be discussed in detail at its annual event, taking place September 25th-26th in Montréal, Québec, known as the WaterPower Canada Conference: “Accelerating Canada’s Clean Electrification Transition”.    

In addition to its tremendous environmental attributes, the Canadian waterpower industry is a key contributor to the economy, contributing billions to the Gross Domestic Product every year. The industry supports more than 100,000 jobs across the country, directly and indirectly. However, even with the countless benefits derived from the hydropower industry, many people do not realize the full extent to which hydropower positively impacts their daily lives. Tremendous education and advocacy efforts need to be deployed to ensure Canadians recognize and value this abundant source of clean electricity.  Furthermore, although hydropower already generates nearly two-thirds of Canada’s electricity, there is still the potential to double our installed capacity, and a lot can be achieved through refurbishment and modernization of existing infrastructure. 

With the goal of ensuring the industry is well positioned to respond to the clean electrification revolution, and is top of mind with policy makers and Canadians in general, WaterPower Canada is making waves within the clean energy sector. Working closely with government, stakeholders and industry leaders, WaterPower Canada is actively promoting the technical, economic, social, and environmental advantages of hydropower to showcase that after 130 years of proven technology, our industry will continue to be an integral part of the future.

Anne-Raphaëlle Audouin, President of WaterPower Canada, will be presenting at the 2019 World Hydropower Congress during the regional focus session on North America.

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