The Electrification of CERI

Published on: March 16, 2020

This year CERI celebrates its 45th anniversary. Since its inception in 1975, the Institute has invested a great deal of effort to develop and maintain expertise in understanding energy supply and demand factors in Canada. More recently – in the last ten years – there has been a focus on the developing oil and gas supply sector in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador. However, we have explored the emerging oil and gas issues in the Yukon, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. The result is some of the most extensive knowledge of oil and gas supply, production and downstream activities available in the country, of which we are immensely proud.

When I arrived at CERI in 2014, that expertise and credibility was well established, and we have maintained that position to date. However, one of the reasons I joined this organization was to re-invigorate CERI’s electricity expertise. Over the decades, CERI has conducted many studies considering the relevant current issues faced by Canada’s electricity markets. A selection of past work on Canadian electricity markets includes:

1980. The Impact of Rate Structure Change on Electricity Demand: A Case Study of Calgary Power Limited

1982. Coal and Nuclear Electricity Fuels; A Regional Analysis

1983. Potential Benefits and Costs of Canadian Electricity Exports

1987. Industrial Cogeneration in Canada: Prospects and Perspectives

1991. New Coal Technology and Electric Power Development

1992. Demand-Side Management for Electricity: Pushing Back Barriers

1993. Critical Issues in Electric Power Planning in the 1990s

1996. Charting New Frontiers: Electric Power Reform

1999. The Impact of Electricity Restructuring on the Natural Gas Industry

1999. Electricity Generation in Canada: Tax Depreciation Issues Arising from Market Deregulation & Climate Change

2000. The Potential of Stationary Fuel Cells in Canada: 2000-2010

2000. Electricity and Gas: Market and Price Convergence. Fundamentals of Restructuring and Convergence

2000. Overcoming Barriers to the Implementation of District Energy Projects

2004. Generation Capacity Issues in Deregulated Markets, A Canadian Perspective

CERI continues to commit significant resources to the research of oil and gas issues in Canada. In 2015 we began to increase our efforts to provide a greater understanding of Canadian electricity issues and their connection to oil and gas systems. This investment has borne fruit as we consider the connections between generation, transmission, distribution and demand. In addition, we have used this new perspective to understand how the discussion of electrification of services away from oil or gas might affect Canada and its economy. This is demonstrated in the Institute’s recent work, including:

2015. An Assessment of Hydroelectric Power Options to Satisfy Oil Sands Electricity Demand

2017. Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reductions in Canada Through Electrification of Energy Services

2018. A Comprehensive Guide to Electricity Generation Options in Canada

2018. Impacts of Carbon Management Policies on Canadian Electricity Prices.

2018. Economic and Environmental Impacts of Transitioning to a Cleaner Electricity Grid in Western Canada

2019. Economic and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Impacts of Alternative Transportation Scenarios for Canadian Cities

2019. Electricity Storage Systems: Applications and Business Cases

2020. The Economics and Electricity System Impacts of Distributed Generation (upcoming May 2020)

Visit CERI’s website to download any of these recent studies. If looking for studies published before 2011, contact us at and we can arrange to send you a copy.

CERI’s approach to research builds on existing knowledge and skills and looks to grow our understanding. In building this approach, the Institute has taken the following steps:

  1. Developed provincial level electricity optimization models for generation and transmission
  2. Identified specific cities and regions for distribution level electricity systems analysis
  3. Developed census division level electricity generation resource availability analysis for wind, solar, hydro and biomass to better understand the local constraints on renewable electricity developments
  4. Produced best-in-class provincial analysis of generation costs for most electricity generation options
  5. Developed end-use assessments from stock roll-over models for transportation and residential building sector assessments
  6. Tied these micro-level models and technological understanding to our macro-level economic analysis to convert the market potential of various pathways into GDP, employment and tax impacts.

I am proud to say that these efforts have not gone unnoticed. More and more, CERI is being asked to lend its electricity market expertise in conversations regarding strategies for associations, policy considerations for governments, and most recently, being asked to represent Canada in the International Energy Agency’s analysis of electricity generation technologies in the OECD countries.

What we have found from our work is the nuanced understanding needed concerning the different characteristics, opportunities, emissions profiles and costs of the 13 provincial and territorial electricity markets in Canada.

Added to the complexity of understanding electricity supply markets is the need to integrate that understanding with oil and gas supply and demand, and the interaction of electricity and natural gas with the industrial sector. Furthermore, it is essential to understand how each of these systems is impacted by national and international discussions to combat climate change. The investment in developing CERI’s electricity expertise has benefited our understanding of its links to other energy systems. This gives us a holistic view of how our energy systems work together.

As we move forward with analyses of Canadian energy systems in an era of climate change, this integrated view is vital. Having an insular view of oil markets, gas markets or electricity markets is insufficient to understanding the consequences of policies and business decisions. CERI has established itself as a key information source for this comprehensive view, and we will continue to invest in understanding all these markets for years to come.