The very geography of Canada has led to the Canadian energy industry’s expertise in the generation and transmission of electricity, in particular hydroelectric power. The paradox of Canada’s vast geography is that it poses an energy supply problem to the 32 million people scattered over 10Mkm2, while at the same time offering a solution to the energy demands of its inhabitants. One of the least densely populated countries in the world, with a rigorous climate and large distances between population centres, Canada has been graced with water, whether falling or running or still water, and thus water-based power ready to meet Canada’s relatively high per capita energy use.
Canada is home to some of the largest hydro power facilities in the world: the 5429MW Churchill Falls underground power plant in Labrador, the 5328MW Robert-Bourassa Complex near James Bay, Québec and the 214m-high Daniel-Johnson arch-and-buttress dam on the Manicouagan river in Québec, to name just a few.
There are 475 hydro power plants in Canada, of which 233 have a generating capacity of more than 10MW and represent 99% of total hydropower capacity.
Canada generates about 353TWh/year of hydro power, which is close to 60% of its total electricity production. [With an installed capacity of 69,205MW (2002), Canada is the world’s biggest producer of hydro power. Leading the US, Brazil, China and Russia, Canada’s output is nearly 13% of the global output].
In addition to existing facilities, Canada has many opportunities for new hydro project development. Approximately 118,000MW of hydro power, twice the amount that is currently in operation, could technically be developed. The three territories and all the provinces, except Prince Edward Island, hold some remaining potential. The provinces of Québec, Manitoba, British Columbia, and Newfoundland and Labrador in particular hold significant potential for development.
Several recent agreements signed with aboriginal communities will increase cooperation and partnership for the development of new hydro projects. In the Province of Québec, an agreement was signed in 2004 between the Cree Nation and Hydro-Québec, whereby the utility agreed to facilitate the participation of the James Bay Crees in hydroelectric development through partnership, employment and contracts. In Manitoba, the Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation will be an equity partner with Manitoba Hydro in the development and operation of the planned Wuskwatim generating station on the Burntwood river. The low head design of Wuskwatim will produce 200MW, while flooding only 0.5km of land. The planned project start date is January 2005.
Across Canada, several other new projects are being planned, such as the Waneta hydroelectric expansion project (435MW) in British Columbia; the Eastmain 1A (5.6TWh), La Romaine (1500MW), Chute-Allard and Rapides-des-Coeurs (138MW) in Quebec, and Gull Island in Labrador.
Under construction in Québec are the Eastmain (480MW), Péribonka (385MW), Toulnustouc (526MW), Grand-Mère (220MW), and Mercier (50.5MW) projects.
Moreover, Québec has four refurbishment projects in the works: Outardes-4 (56MW), Outardes-3 (254MW), La Tuque (51MW) and Bersimis-1. In British Columbia, the Brilliant Expansion project, scheduled for completion in 2006, will generate up to 120MW.
The Niagara tunnel is an important refurbishment project underway in Ontario. It will add a third water intake tunnel to supply existing generating stations, which will produce an additional 1.6TWh per year when the project is completed in 2009. In Manitoba, the Kelsey project consists of refurbishing all seven units with a projected increase of 11MW per unit, representing an overall 30% increase in output. The work should be completed by 2015.
Typically, large projects can take between 8-12 years to complete, including regulatory review, consultations, planning, construction and commissioning. The lengthy regulatory process that hydro power projects must undergo includes comprehensive environmental assessment and public consultations; this process significantly slows down the development of new hydro projects. Notwithstanding these delays, the development of new hydro power capacity has become a matter of urgency. Over the next two decades, the demand for electricity will increase on average by 1.3% per year; the question is how to meet Canada’s electricity needs without compromising the environment. Growing concerns about greenhouse gas emissions, together with increasing recognition of hydro power as a clean and low-emitting source of electricity, put further hydro development in a good light.
Age structure in the industry
Total labor force of Canada was 17.37 million (2004), which is distributed within these major occupations: agriculture 3%, manufacturing 15%, construction 5%, services 74%, other 3% (2000) (CIA Facts). Due to lack of information regarding the age structure of people working in hydropower industry, a more broad perceptive has been used for research. It uses the term put forward by International Labour Organization (ILO) commonly know as economically active population i.e. The economically active population comprises all persons of either sex who furnish the supply of labour for the production of economic goods and services as defined by the United Nations systems of national accounts and balances during a specified time-reference period (ILO).
• The University of British Columbia’s civil engineering department has a hydrotechnical engineering programme, which is targeted towards students who want to specialise in subjects such as hydrology, hydraulics, environmental fluid mechanics, or coastal engineering. Alternatively, students may choose a broad programme such as water resources management, which would include elements of hydrology, hydraulics, systems engineering and pollution control engineering. M.Eng, M.A.Sc. and Ph.D. programmes are available. http://www.civil.ubc.ca/hydrotechnical.htm
• The University of McGrill has a civil engineering programme with specialisation in five subjects – including hydraulics and water resource engineering. http://www.mcgill.ca/civil/undergrad/areas/
• The University of Waterloo has a civil engineering programme with specialisation in environmental and water resource engineering. Environmental and water resources engineering includes areas of study such as hydraulics, hydrology, hydrogeology, liquid and solid waste disposal, treatment of drinking water and wastewater, remote sensing, and water resources, planning and management. http://www.civil.uwaterloo.ca/default.asp?page=310
• The University of Western Ontario offers engineering and research in water resource and environmental modelling under the department of civil and environmental engineering. Areas of concentration under this field are: water resources systems modelling, management of multipurpose reservoirs, hydro power optimisation, environmental hydraulics, thermal pollution of water, design of stratified mixing channels, thermal saline plumes, neural nets and fuzzy sets for water resources management, artificial neural networks for simulation of turbulence, air pollution and atmospheric dispersion of pollutants, and computational fluid dynamics. http://www.uwo.ca/
• The University of Guelph offers a water resource engineering programme. http://www.soe.uoguelph.ca/ Prospective/Water_Resources.htm
• The Ottawa-Carleton Institute for civil engineering offers a Masters and PhD in civil engineering. It is also involved in research work in water resource engineering. The main areas of research in water resources engineering include: the physical and mathematical modelling of fluid and sediment transport processes in rivers, with and without ice covers; design of river bed and bank erosion-control structures; hydraulics of bridge waterways; flow-measurement devices for municipal wastewater collection systems; hydraulics of debris and high-concentration flows; regional analysis of hydro-meteorological extremes; hydrologic space-time modelling using remote-sensing data; effects of climate change on hydrology; study of floods and droughts studies; development of meteorological radar; the application of renewable energy technologies to rural water supply systems; field testing of prototype solar pumping systems; evaluation of urban water systems and rural hand pump systems; interface of modelling with design in urban drainage; and technology transfer to developing countries. The Ottawa-Carleton Institute of civil engineering has established a number of organised research units to foster cooperative research among faculty within the Institute and with other researchers outside the Institute like the Centre for Geosynthetics Research Information and Development (C-GRID), International Water Engineering Centre (IWEC) , Ottawa-Carleton Bridge Research Institute (OCBRI)etc. http://www.ocice.carleton.ca/english/research/ index.html#water
• The Canadian Dam Association was created to set rules and regulation regarding safe operation of dams. In addition to public safety considerations and protection of the environment, the new association provides a forum for the exchange of ideas and experiences in the field of dam safety by: fostering inter-provincial cooperation; promoting the adoption of regulatory policies and safety guidelines for dams and reservoirs throughout Canada; providing information and assistance to dam owners in support of dam safety programs; sharing information with Canadian and international organisations interested in dam safety. CDA is concerned with technical, environmental, social, economic, legal, and administrative aspects of dams and their safety. For this purpose it regularly conducts workshops that are open to everyone. http://www.cda.ca/
• BC Hydro is the third largest electric utility in Canada serving more than 1.5M customers in an area containing over 94% of British Columbia’s population. Electricity is delivered through a network of 73,000km of transmission and distribution lines. It operates 61 dams at 43 locations, with 32 hydroelectric facilities, one major gas-fired thermal power plant and two combustion turbine stations. It provides on-job training to employees through the Engineer-in-Training (EIT) programme. During the training period the Engineers are relocated to various locations in British Columbia. http://www.bchydro.bc.ca/careers/eit/eit2936.html
• The Canadian Hydraulics Centre is one of North America’s largest hydraulic engineering laboratories. It has the expertise and experience in physical and numerical modelling, analysis and field studies to solve a wide range of hydraulic engineering problems. Environmental hydraulics services include: coastal ecosystem management, river and watershed management, flood management and dam break, chemical and oil spill migration, water quality and pollutant transport, sediment transport including shoreline erosion and dredged spoil disposal, aquaculture management, environmental information and simulation systems. http://chc.nrc-cnrc.gc.ca/English/Environmental/Environmental_e.html
• The University of Laval has a laboratory called LAHM, which is a hydraulic machinery laboratory. LAHM has its specialisation in research and development in the field of turbo-machines, which is supported by the mechanical engineering department of Laval University dating back over 40 years. Current projects includes testing and comparison of various aeration devices, for a fully homologous model of a Francis turbine, manufacture adaptation components and aeration devices, etc http://www.gmc.ulaval.ca/Labos/ LAMH/index.html
• RSW Group has performed studies, and provided design, detailed engineering and construction supervision services for the construction as well as the rehabilitation of hydroelectric developments representing more than 35,000MW of installed capacity. The multidisciplinary expertise (hydraulics, geology, geotechnical, civil, mechanical and electrical engineering) of engineers, technicians and other professionals of RSW Inc. in the power generation sector covers large and medium size hydroelectric developments and mini-hydro projects in Canada, Asia, Latin America and Europe. http://www.rswinc.com/index.html