A new forecast says Canada is on track for a significant reduction in fossil fuel use by 2050, even as electricity demand grows and demand for crude oil continues.
In a new report on long-term Canadian energy supply and demand outlook, the Canada Energy Regulator predicts unabated fossil fuel use (meaning fossil fuel combustion without carbon capture and sequestration) will decline 62% by 2050.
The forecast suggests Canadians will use significantly less gasoline and diesel in coming years, resulting in a 43% decline in the use of refined petroleum products by 2050.
Electricity use could rise by 45% as Canadians transition to electric vehicles. The report predicts low-cost wind and solar power will be used to meet the rise in demand.
Canadian crude oil production growth is expected to peak at 5.8 million barrels per day in 2032, and then to decline slowly to reach 4.8 million barrels per day in 2050, only slightly below today’s levels.
The report says that is because of the nature of Canada’s oilsands facilities, which are long-lived and have low operating costs once built. Production projections suggest the pipeline system out of Western Canada would still be nearly at capacity into the mid-2030s.
The forecast is based on the Canada Energy Regulator’s assumption that the current pace of increasing efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Canada and around the world will continue.
The regulator also laid out alternative scenarios, one that looked at energy demand in the event that there is a lack of additional climate action beyond current policies. This business-as-usual scenario would see crude oil production peak at 6.7 million barrels per day in 2044.
The Canada Energy Regulator also looked, for the first time, at what Canada’s electricity system might look like in a net-zero world. In these scenarios, the emissions from the electricity sector drop dramatically, with battery storage playing a significant role alongside immense growth in wind and solar.