Climate Change and Renewable Energy

Non-renewable electricity generation produces about 30% of all the new greenhouse gases (GHG) emitted by people around the world. In Canada, almost all of the increases in GHG emissions since 1990 are as a result of electricity production.


There are multiple options for lowering GHG emissions from our energy system including energy conservation, efficiency and renewable energy.


How are climate change and renewable energy connected?


Renewable Energy in Climate Change Mitigation


Generating electricity from renewable resources such as wind, solar and water is an important source of “clean” electricity that helps reduce GHG emissions.


Solar Panels
Solar Panels

Renewable energy is an important part of Ontario’s electricity supply mix, and can help to mitigate climate change.


A shift towards renewable forms of power will decrease Ontario’s consumption of fossil fuels (such as oil, coal, and natural gas), which contribute to climate change by releasing greenhouse gases into the air.


Read about Ontario's long-term energy plan






Greenwich wind farm construction
Greenwich Wind Farm construction

Windpower on Crown land in Ontario

The Greenwich wind farm - just west of Thunder Bay near the town of Dorian is located entirely on Crown land.


When complete, phase one of the Greenwich project will consist of 43 wind turbines dotted over 2,990 square hectares of landscape that was previously part of a forestry operation.


The project will generate 99 MW of electricity which is enough to supply the energy needs of 30,000 homes. Greenwich, like other wind energy projects, will contribute to the reduction of emissions from electricity production in Ontario.


Impacts of Climate Change on Renewable Energy


Climate change may alter the availability of natural resources needed to generate renewable energy. Changes to weather patterns such as precipitation, humidity, wind speed and cloudiness may result in changes to quantity and timing of renewable resources.


For example, waterpower is dependent on water availability. Changing patterns of precipitation, evaporation and the amount of melting snow could result in more variable water levels, which could affect waterpower generation.


Adapting to Climate Change with Renewable Energy


Integrating renewable energy into our energy system can help make communities more climate resilient. By having local sources of renewable energy, the energy system is more resilient to interruptions of supply and big power outages. This is because when an electricity grid relies largely on a small number of large power plants, the system is more vulnerable to outages due to large storms that affect the grid or the supply. By incorporating renewable energy into the supply mix around Ontario, the power system is more diverse and dispersed across communities, making energy supply more secure.


hydropower generating station at London Street in Peterborough
Waterpower generating station at London Street in Peterborough

Local Power in Peterborough

The electricity generated at the 4.1 MW hydropower generating station at London Street in Peterborough is fed directly into Peterborough Distribution Inc.'s distribution system.


The output from this station was used to keep the Peterborough Regional Health Centre operating during the widespread blackout of August 2003 that affected most of Ontario and the northeastern United States.



Role of MNR in renewable energy


To support the government’s green energy initiative, the ministry makes Crown land available for sustainable renewable energy projects including: waterpower, wind power, solar power and bio-energy.


To do this the Ministry has developed specific policies and procedures to ensure the effective management of Ontario’s Crown land for proposed renewable energy development.


MNR issues approvals and permits for renewable energy projects on both Crown and private land and provides technical guidance documents to assist in proposed site planning and operations.


 • Learn more about MNR’s role in renewable energy

 • Find out more information about renewable energy in Ontario


What can you do?


Use less energy. Lower energy consumption reduces GHG emissions, which reduces the rate of global warming. Here are a few tips to help you reduce your energy consumption:
  • Purchase energy efficient appliances whenever possible.
  • Turn off the lights when you leave a room.
  • Turn down the thermostat a little during winter

Learn more about efforts to conserve electricity by visiting the Ontario Power Authority site and the Office of Energy Efficiency at Natural Resources Canada.


Participate in government programs that encourage renewable energy. Visit the Ministry of Energy’s Renewable Energy Information Centre to learn more about the types of energy generation and the programs available to support renewable energy development.


Learn more about climate change and renewable energy. Check out resources and websites that provide more information:

 • Renewable Energy and Climate Change – An Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change special
   report on the role and potential of renewable energy to mitigate climate change.

 • Climate Path’s ‘Every footprint counts’ web site of resources to help us understand our
   individual energy foot print and how to conserve and offset our impact.