The Energy Structure of the Canadian Economy

Journal Article

We developed a model of a national economy in which the phenomena of supply, demand, economic growth, and international trade are represented in terms of energy flows. In examining the structure of the economy, we distinguish between the energy embodied in capital assets used in the production and distribution of energy and that embodied in capital assets and goods that consume energy. Sources used to quantify the energy flows include: end-use energy data by economic sector; International Energy Agency-style national energy balances, and national input-output tables. As an example, the Canadian economy for 2008 produced 16.97 exajoules (EJ) of energy, which after net export of 6.16 EJ and other adjustments left a total primary energy consumption of 10.61 EJ. The energy supply and distribution sectors used close to 32% (3.36 EJ) of total primary consumption. Analysis of primary energy consumption shows that 25.14% was embodied in household consumption, 22.85% was consumed directly by households, 7.88% was embodied in government services, and 34.07% was embodied in exports. Of significance to economic growth, 7.14% was embodied in capital in energy demanding sectors, 1.25% in energy consuming personal assets, and 1.52% in supply sector capital. The energy return on energy investment was relatively constant, averaging 5.14 between 1990 and 2008. Capital investments required to decouple the Canadian economy from its dependence on fossil fuels are discerned.