What if Canada had spent $200bn on wind energy instead of oil?

In explaining Canada’s decision to nationalise the controversial Trans Mountain pipeline for $4.5bn, Bill Morneau went hard on the economic argument. “Make no mistake,” the finance minister said. “This is an investment in Canada’s future.”

In fact, since 1999, more than $200bn has been invested into the Alberta oil sands for that future. But what if that cash had gone into wind energy instead? Let’s compare.

In 2017, the Alberta oil sands produced roughly 912m barrels. About 60% was turned into gasoline and diesel, enough to fuel 73m vehicles for 16,000km (the roughly average yearly driven distance). Had $200bn been invested in the wind energy sector, at the current cost of $1.8m megawatt (MW), Alberta would have 111,000 MW of capacity. Based on what Alberta actually generated in 2017, it could power more than 122m electric vehicles for the same 16,000kmMORE