Hydropower in Canada: 15 Facts

hydropower in Canada facts and statistics

Canada is a hydroelectricity powerhouse, today holding the title as a global leader in harnessing this renewable energy source. With its abundant water resources and vast landscapes, it is no surprise that Canada is the third-largest hydroelectricity producer in the world.

About 60 per cent of Canada's electricity comes from “waterpower,” which is utilized extensively in provinces and territories nationwide. From the near-ocean rivers in Nova Scotia to the iconic Niagara Falls in Ontario to the meandering mountain streams of British Columbia, Canada's hydropower use showcases its commitment to low-emission and sustainable energy solutions.

Here are several facts on hydropower in Canada that you may or may not know. Use them as you please! Also see:

Canadian Hydropower: 15 Facts

Canada was the 3rd largest hydropower producer in the world in 2020

#1 - Moving water is Canada’s most important renewable energy source, providing 60% of the country’s electricity generation [1]

#2 - Six out of ten Canadian homes and businesses are powered by hydroelectricity [2]

#3 - Canada was the world’s third-largest producer of hydroelectricity in 2020, with 4,341 Terawatt-hours of generation [1]

#4 - Canada’s total hydroelectricity capacity was 82,307 Megawatts (MW) in 2021 [1]

#5 - With an expected capacity soon exceeding 85,000 MW, Canada was the fourth-largest generator of hydroelectricity in the world in 2021 [2]

#6 - Across Canada, there are 609 total hydro facilities, with 596 having a capacity of at least 1 MW and 13 facilities with less than 1 MW of capacity [1]

#7 - Hydropower contributes more than $35 billion to Canada’s gross domestic product (GDP) and supports upwards of 130,000 direct and indirect jobs across the country [2]

#8 - Hydropower is a major generator of electricity supply for many provinces and territories across the country, accounting for (in 2020) [1]:

• 97% of Manitoba's electricity supply

• 95.8% of Newfoundland and Labrador's electricity supply

• 93.6% of Quebec's electricity supply

• 89.1% of British Columbia's electricity supply

• 81.9% of the Yukon's electricity supply

• 38.1% of the North West Territories electricity supply

• 25.2% of Ontario's electricity supply

• 18% of Nova Scotia's electricity supply

#9 - Canada’s top ten largest hydropower dams by capacity in 2021 [1]:

• Robert-Bourassa – 5,616 MW - Quebec

• Churchill Falls – 5,428 MW – Newfoundland & Labrador

• Mica – 2,805 MW – British Columbia

• La Grande 4 – 2,779 MW - Quebec

• Gordon M. Shrum – 2,730 MW – British Columbia

• Revelstoke – 2,480 MW – British Columbia

• La Grande 3 – 2,417 - Quebec

• La Grande 2A – 2,160 MW - Quebec

• Beauharnois – 1,900 MW – Quebec

• Manic 5 – 1,596 MW - Quebec

#10 - Refurbishment of existing hydropower facilities across Canada will allow the country to boost its generation capacity even further in the coming years [2]

#11 - Nearly 16 million Canadians live in provinces where 90 per cent or more of electricity supplies comes from hydropower [2]

#12 - Chaudiere Falls, one of Canada’s oldest hydroelectric generating stations, was commissioned in 1891, still providing renewable electricity to the nation’s capital today [2]

#13 - Canadian hydro facilities convert 90% of available renewable energy from water into electricity, making it the most efficient source of electrical energy [2]

#14 - There is currently 155,000 MW of technical undeveloped waterpower potential across Canada, nearly double that of the country's current hydro electricity generation capacity [2]

#15 - Canada’s waterpower-dominant electricity grid is the cleanest of all G20 nations [2]

Canadian Waterpower & Sustainability

a majority of Canadians support trade in all energy technologies including wind, solar, hydro, geothermal, oil, natural gas, and more

Canada’s abundance of streams, rivers and lakes have made hydropower a highly reliable source of clean electricity not just for Canadians, but also for our closest ally and trade partner to the south.

We are a net exporter of electricity to the United States. Large hydroelectric projects in British Columbia, Manitoba, Quebec, and Newfoundland & Labrador aid in exporting renewably generated electricity mainly to California, New England, New York, and the Midwest States.

Hydroelectricity exports from Canada to the United States help prevent the release of millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions into the atmosphere annually by displacing higher GHG-intensity forms of power generation.

By continuing to develop Canada's hydro resources, we can continue to play a very important role in emissions abatement by supplying both Canadians and Americans with more of our responsibly produced hydroelectricity!

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1. Government of Canada. (2022). [Online Document]. Available at: https://publications.gc.ca/collections/collection_2022/rncan-nrcan/M136-1-2022-eng.pdf (Date Accessed: October 2023)

2. WaterPower Canada. (n.d.). [Website]. Available at: https://waterpowercanada.ca/ (Date Accessed: October 2023)

3. To cite the provided websites in APA format, including the "Date Accessed: October 2023," here are the references:

4. U.S. Energy Information Administration. (2015). U.S.-Canada Electricity Trade Increases [Website]. Retrieved from https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=21992. Date Accessed: October 2023.

5. Canada Energy Regulator. (2017). Market Snapshot: Electricity Exports from B.C. to California Are Increasing [Website]. Retrieved from https://www.cer-rec.gc.ca/en/data-analysis/energy-markets/market-snapshots/2017/market-snapshot-electricity-exports-from-b-c-california-are-increasing.html. Date Accessed: October 2023.