Picture of Energy in Canada

Energy is the fundamental driving force of virtually all aspects of community infrastructure, and it influences the ways we work, play and live. The manner in which we develop and operate our energy systems is a critical in achieving sustainable communities and lifestyles. Many communities across Canada have implemented innovations that have resulted in considerable steps toward sustainable energy, such as T’Sou-ke First Nation’s Solar Community Program, Drake Landing Solar Community (DLSC), District Energy Systems (e.g., Revelstoke and Prince George), and the Ottawa Renewable Energy Co-operative (OREC). However, as Canadians, we must also think of the bigger picture and consider our national energy development and consumption, in addition that of individual communities. We must ask – what has Canada relied on for energy and how will we continue to power this country? The interactive visualization below conveys Canada’s energy production and consumption over the last 50 years. We invite you to engage with this visualization and explore the last half-century of Canadians and energy, looking at where our energy has come from, how much we have produced, and what our levels of usage have been.

How was this visualization built?

The visualization aims to serve as an animated and visually-rich method of portraying times series data on Canada’s energy history (data obtained from Statistics Canada). Energy production is expressed in terawatt-hours (TWh), where a terawatt refers a trillion watts. Energy consumption is displayed in terms of per capita, meaning it shows the amount of energy consumed in Canada for every person in the country, and is expressed in megawatt-hours (MWh) per capita (a megawatt being a million watts).

Each ‘scene’ of the visualization is based on data averaged for the three years around the decade of interest (e.g., the 1970 scene portrays data averaged for 1969, 1970, and 1971). The graphics depicting energy operations have elements that are scaled according to the degree in which they increase or decrease from decade-to-decade; for example, the amount of coal cars increase with coal energy production, water levels increase with hydroelectric energy production, flame increases with oil energy production, etc. Similarly, the fume clouds from the house are scaled to represent increases / decreases in per capita energy expenditure. The number of people decrease in the household as per capita consumption increases to represent how (in the case of per capita increases) a greater level of energy is required / consumed for every individual in the country.

How do you interact with this visualization?

Click on the years below the visualization to change which decade you would like to view, or click on the arrow buttons to move forward or back a decade. Once the scene loads, you will be able to scroll over each of the different energy operations to view the production and percentage of total production associated with the different energy sources – coal, hydroelectric, oil, natural gas, nuclear, and renewables other than hydroelectric (represented by solar panels and wind turbines). Scroll over the house to view per capita energy consumption values and read about how these values have changed throughout the last 50 years.