Hydroelectric power is one of Canada's chief sources of energy and accounts for more than 25% of domestic energy consumption. Canada is the leading producer of hydroelectric power in North America and is second only to China internationally. The production of hydroelectric power is a significant pillar of the Canadian economy, as a large amount of power is exported to the United States and estimates indicate that growth of the sector will lead to the creation of at least a million jobs in the coming 20 years. Canadian hydroelectric power plants are some of the most efficient, as they convert almost 95% of the water's energy into electricity.
The Largest Hydroelectric Power Stations in Canada
Canada's largest hydroelectric power stations are found in the provinces of British Columbia, Quebec, and Newfoundland and Labrador.
Nearly 95% of the electricity consumed in the Canadian province of British Columbia comes from hydroelectric power plants. Most of the hydroelectric power in British Columbia is generated and distributed by BC Hydro, which operates 32 hydroelectric stations. The crown corporation was established in 1961 after the unification of BC Electric Company and the BC Power Commission. BC Hydro produces at least 40,000 GWh of hydroelectricity annually, and supplements its production by using natural gas, which is used to power thermal power generators. Most of the corporation's dams are along two rivers: the Peace River and the Columbia River. The company serves nearly 2 million people in the region and also exports electricity to the United States.
Hydro-Quebec manages a vast network of hydroelectric generators and produces more than 95% of the energy used in the region. The region accounts for more than 40% of the total water resources available in Canada, making it a prime location for hydroelectric power generation. The crown corporation operates 63 hydroelectric generators, 5 of which have a capacity greater than 2,000 MW. The Robert-Bourassa Generating Station is the corporation's largest and has a capacity of 5,616 MW. The corporation supplies electricity to more than 4 million consumers, and the majority are either farms or residential units who use the power primarily for heating. In addition to its local clients, the corporation also exports electricity to the United States.
Newfoundland and Labrador
80% of the electricity supplied in Newfoundland and Labrador is produced by hydroelectric generators. Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, which was initially established to undertake rural electrification programs, operates all 12 hydropower plants in the region. The Churchill Falls (Labrador) Corporation operates the world's second largest underground power plant, Churchill Falls Generating Station, which produces 5,428 MW of electricity. The corporation fulfils its rural electrification mandate by supplying 35,000 clients in rural areas of the region. The company also exports electricity to the United States.
Benefits of Hydroelectric Power
The generation of hydroelectric power does not deplete water resources, which ensures that the water can be reused to produce more electricity. Hydroelectric facilities can last for a long time, as some like the Chaudière Falls Generating Station have operated for more than 120 years. The production of hydroelectric energy does not release pollutants to the environment unlike fossil fuels. The generation of hydroelectricity is also safer compared to other sources such as nuclear energy, since the only fuel involved is water. Hydroelectricity is also one of the most efficient energy sources in the world, as it achieves a rate of conversion of nearly 100%.