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Sources of Electricity Around the World
and in Alberta

Do you ever wonder where electricity comes from when you turn on your lights?  Have you ever thought about how electricity gets to your home or business before you even turn on the television or a reading light?  Direct Energy Regulated Services is an Alberta energy company that purchases electricity on behalf of our customers within the regulated market.  We believe it’s important to not only look at the sources of electricity here in Alberta, but also around the world to see how we compare and for the benefit of those we serve. 

 We’d like to give you some insight into sources of electrical energy around the world, across Canada and in Alberta. You’ll obtain a deeper understanding on how energy is used, how it’s generated and where it comes from.

Some power plants generate electricity using natural gas.

Sources of Electricity Around the World

The International Energy Agency (IEA) is a group of nations that have aligned to work on several different policies and educational awareness efforts around various energy sources.  The IEA was founded in 1974 and consists of 30 member countries including Canada and eight associated countries that account for nearly 75 percent of the world’s energy consumption. A portion of IEA’s work is to collect and publish annual data on world electricity generation by source. 

 The IEA issued a report in 2018 which stated that combustible fuels accounted for nearly 67 percent of total world gross electricity production.

 Combustible fuels include:

  • Coal
  • Coal products
  • Oil
  • Oil products
  • Natural gas
  • Biofuels (biomass and animal products)
  • Gas and liquids from biomass
  • Industrial waste
  • Municipal waste

 Here’s a look at the amount of electricity generated by source:

  • Coal – 38.3 percent
  • Natural gas – 22.9 percent
  • Hydro power – 16.3 percent
  • Nuclear – 10.2 percent
  • Wind – 4.4 percent
  • Oil – 3.3 percent
  • Biofuels and waste – 2.3 percent
  • Solar – 1.8 percent
  • Geothermal, tidal, other – 0.9 percent

 Coal and natural gas accounted for more than half of the sources of electricity in the world in 2017. 

Sources of Electrical Energy in Canada

According to this 2017 report, Natural Resources Canada says the following sources were used to produce electricity across the country that year:

  • Hydro power – 60 percent
  • Nuclear – 15 percent
  • Gas/oil/others – 10 percent
  • Coal – 9 percent
  • Non-hydro renewables – 7 percent

Canada’s breakdown of electricity sources is much different than the world’s sources.  According to the same report, two-thirds of Canada’s electricity comes from renewable sources, a marked contrast from the rest of the world.  In addition, according to the World Economic Forum, Canada is the world’s third largest producer of hydroelectricity, trailing only China and Brazil. 

Sources of Electricity in Alberta

Clearly, the sources of electricity by country are different from the global averages.  Taking that a step further, we can also see interesting differences between the provinces in Canada. According to the Canada Energy Regulator Web site, in 2016 the sources of electricity In Alberta were:

  • Coal and Coke (a solid fuel made by heating coal in the absence of air)– 47.4 percent
  • Natural Gas – 40.3 percent
  • Wind – 6.9 percent
  • Hydro – 2.8 percent
  • Biomass – 2.7 percent

Of all the Canadian provinces, Alberta produces the most electricity-generating natural gas for the country. Alberta produces approximately two-thirds of all the natural gas in Canada, and is home to the country’s largest coal fleet. So, it makes sense that Albertans would use local resources for their sources of electricity. 

Direct Energy Regulated Services is the default retailer for customers in the ATCO Electric service area. We help customers in a wide variety of regions, including Grande Prairie, Lloydminster, Fort McMurray, and Bonnyville, just to name a few. If you live in our service area and don’t choose a specific utility provider, we provide electricity to your home by default. The AUC determines the rates you pay for the electricity we provide.

As an Alberta energy company we purchase electricity on behalf of our customers within the regulated market. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us online.  Our team of experienced professionals is ready to provide you with whatever information you need.