Energy Realities 2: Canada – How Long Can the Lights Stay On?

Energy is the most critical building block of modern societies because of the work it allows us to do.   No energy, no lights, no camera, no action.  And no food.
Canada has an enviable range of rich energy resources.   Besides some of the world’s largest per capita reserves of oil and natural gas, we have considerable hydro electric capacity.  These resources allow Canada to be one of the largest energy exporters in a world where most nations are now net energy importers.

But Canada’s energy resources are not infinite and we have been burning the candle at both ends through population growth and increasing exports.  Ignoring all considerations of global warming responsibility for the moment, Canadians could get along quite nicely for 150+ years on our fossil fuel reserves.  Even longer if we put strong conservation programs in place and built more renewable energy capacity.

For more on energy, please see:

Current Reserves

2015 Production

Life Spans


Current government policy is one of rapid population growth through mass immigration (5 times the balanced level) combined with the expansion of exports of fossil fuel resources. The policy of extreme growth of the economy which will triple our population this century, has considered no natural limits or impacts on the land or the people of this country. The lifespan of our resources is a critical consideration for our society if we are to avoid the booms and busts which have brought down other nations.

The EROI (link: of Canada’s energy resources is declining (with the possible exception of coal) as the graph below for oil and natural gas illustrates. As effort to extract resources goes up, so do real costs. Economists would refer to this as dis-economies of scale: the more we use, the higher the unit costs will go.

Canada needs a strategy to sustain the prosperity we now enjoy for future generations.  A reckless, business-as-usual approach, which worked so well in the colonization period, is a guarantee of failure going forward.  We need a strategy to transition to renewable, low carbon energy. Please help bring our limitations and our responsibilities to future generations into the national conversation.

Handy Dandy Factoids

The energy each Canadian  uses is equal to the effort of  ~ 120 slaves
1 litre of gas contains the equivalent of around 10 kiloWatt hours of  electricity
1 barrel of oil contains 1700 kW hours of energy and is roughly equivalent to the output of 4 man years of labor – no holidays.
The average Canadian consumes 24 barrels of oil per year.
Renewable  electricity  = 18.9% of our total energy supply.
Wood provides 7% of residential heating.
Canada currently exports 61% of natural gas.
Canada has 1% of world natural gas reserves.
Canada has the third largest oil reserves ~12% of the world total.
1 million cu ft of ng = 170 barrels of oil
1 barrel of oil = 6000 cu ft natural gas

Electricity Source Breakdown

Solar – 0.1%                Wind – 1.7%               Biomass 1.2%

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