Alberta Energy Supply and Consumption

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Energy consumptionEnergy is a modern service which largely escapes our attention when it works well. It is only when it becomes unavailable that we really notice our extreme dependence on it. Alberta's fast-growing economy has made its energy supply and consumption a major area of interest.

Electricity Generation Capacity and Peak Demand:

  • At present, Alberta has 14,003 MW (Megawatt) of installed generating capacity. This means Albertans can use 14,003 MW at any one time. Of this, 5,690 MW is generated from coal, 5,784 from gas, 12 from fuel oil, 900 from water, 1,113 from wind, 418 from biomass and 86 from waste heat. The province can also pull 750 MW from British Columbia and 150 from Saskatchewan.

  • It is clear that the vast majority of the province's electricity is still generated from sources that produce significant greenhouse gasses when burned for energy. Coal, gas and fuel are also finite sources that cannot be re-used after burned, so at this stage our energy use is contributing significantly to the depletion of the planet's natural resources and the destruction of the atmosphere. 

  • At this stage Alberta is providing more than sufficient energy for its residents needs. Peak demand was 9,806 MW in 2008, 10,236 in 2009, 10,226 in 2010, 10,609 in 2011 and 10,599 in 2012. This is the amount of energy demanded at one time. It still falls far below the generation capacity, but it is slowly increasing.

  • To cope with economic growth, the energy industry has proposed 9,401 MW of thermal power and 3,007 MW of renewable power for future development. 


Actual Electricity Generation and Use:

  • Last year Alberta generated 72,918,000 MWh (Megawatt per hour) altogether. More than 90 per cent was generated from coal and gas. Albertans used 53,283,000 MWh altogether, so much of what was generated that was either wasted or exported. 

  • Industrial establishments (27,475,000 MWh) use twice as much as commercial establishments (14,596,000 MWh) and three times as much as households (9,412,000 MWh). 

  • The average household in Alberta consumes 0.72 MWh of electricity per year. 


Natural Gas:

  • There are 1,622 successful natural gas well connections in Alberta and more than 400,000 kilometres of pipelines. The province produces 70 per cent of the country's gas.

  • The average Alberta household uses about 120 gigajoules of natural gas per year.

  • Alberta produces enough gas per year to heat every one of its homes for about 25 years.

While none of us would run out of energy sources, the province should prioritise renewable energy generation, and Albertans should use energy sparingly until this is the case.