Canada Plans Hydropower Push after Keystone Cancellation

CALGARY, Alberta/ MONTREAL (Reuters) — Canada sees an opportunity in U.S. President Joe Biden's push to achieve a carbon-free electrical grid by 2035: hydropower exports.


With Canadian crude exports taking a hit from Biden's decision to scrap the Keystone XL oil pipeline, Ottawa is increasingly focused on sales of clean energy.

Around 60% of the 4 trillion kilowatt-hours of electricity consumed in the United States in 2019 came from fossil fuels, government data show. Biden's push to convert that to clean energy gives Canada, the world's third-largest producer of hydropower, a window to sell more hydro exports to its southern neighbor.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told Reuters last week the United States is interested in boosting hydro imports. In a separate interview Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said combining Canada's clean energy with U.S. wind, solar and geothermal power was a priority for early talks between the two countries.

"We do think that's a big economic opportunity," Wilkinson told Reuters.

A White House spokesman, asked about Canadian hydro exports, said the new administration is "leaving no sources of renewable energy off the table."

Canada generated about 440 billion kilowatt-hours from hydropower in 2020, just over half its maximum installed capacity. Canada's electricity exports to United States dropped in 2019 to a six-year low of 47 billion kilowatt-hours, worth C$1.9 billion ($1.5 billion), influenced by factors like water levels and domestic demand, Canada Energy Regulator specialist Matthew Hansen said.

While a massive U.S. effort to build renewable energy infrastructure might meet Biden's targets, an interconnected grid and sharing resources with neighboring countries would keep energy more affordable, said Steve Clemmer, director of energy research and analysis with the U.S.-based Union of Concerned Scientists.

"Having the hydro from Canada gives some more flexibility to control costs," Clemmer said.


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