Canada ranks fourth in the world for hydropower development, with over 79 GW of installed capacity, including pumped storage. Total annual generation from all hydropower facilities in Canada reached an estimated 380 TWh in 2016, with only China and Brazil exceeding this figure. Hydropower currently accounts for 62 per cent of the country’s power mix.
During 2016, work progressed on four major Canadian hydropower projects under development. Ongoing projects that are in the construction phase will add over 3,000 MW of installed capacity.
BC Hydro is continuing to develop Site C on the Peace River in northern British Columbia. The project is entering the third year of construction, and upon completion will see six 183 MW units go into production for a total installed capacity of 1,100 MW by 2024. Manitoba Hydro is constructing the Keeyask generating station on the Nelson River in northern Manitoba, which began construction in 2015 and will add 695 MW of new capacity by 2021. Following the completion of the Romaine-2 power plant (640 MW) in 2014 and Romaine-1 (270 MW) in 2015, HydroQuébec is completing, Romaine-3 (395 MW), which is expected to be in service in 2017, while the fourth component, Romaine-4 (245 MW) is scheduled for completion by 2020.
In Labrador, Nalcor is constructing Muskrat Falls, an 824 MW hydroelectric generating facility on the lower Churchill River, which upon completion in 2019 will be the second-largest hydroelectric facility in the province.
Major rehabilitation and modernisation of aging hydropower assets continues in Canada. In British Columbia, the 70-year-old John Hart generating station is being modernised, and upon completion in 2021, the original 126 MW six-unit powerhouse will be replaced by a new 132 MW three-unit powerhouse. Hydro-Québec continues with a programme of life-extension projects on a number of older generating stations, including Beauharnois (1,903 MW), Manic 5 (1,596 MW) and Rapide-2 (67 MW) and Rapide-7 (67 MW).
Canada commissioned a number of smaller projects in 2016, including the 18.9 MW Gitchi Animki hydropower complex in northern Ontario. The project, which includes two separate generation sites at 10 MW and 8.9 MW, was developed as a joint venture with the Pic Mobert First Nation, on whose land the project lies. The partnership between the Pic Mobert First Nation and Regional Power Inc., includes 50–50 ownership of the project, and training and employment opportunities for local residents.
Other projects completed in 2016 include the Big Silver Creek (40.6 MW) and Jimmie Creek (62 MW) run-of-river projects in British Columbia. The Jimmie Creek project lies adjacent to the existing east Toba (123 MW) and Montrose Creek (123 MW) facilities, and takes advantage of existing transmission lines in place.
Major transmission interconnections linking Canada’s vast hydropower resources with the US are a vital part of the energy trade relationships between the two countries. Manitoba Hydro and Hydro-Québec are currently two of the largest exporters of hydroelectricity, and are continuing to expand their interconnections. Manitoba Hydro is planning a new 500 kV Interconnection between Manitoba and Minnesota that will increase export capacity and enhance reliability by doubling the utility’s ability to import electricity from the United States. Two new interconnections between Quebec and the United States are also planned. The first involves the construction of a 320 kV direct-current transmission line, connecting Des Cantons substation in Val-Joli to Franklin substation in southern New Hampshire. The second is a 320 kV DC underground line between the Hertel substation and the border with the state of New York.
This country profile is featured in the 2017 Hydropower Status Report. You can download the full report here.
This profile was last updated in May 2017.