Canada’s farms integrate renewable energy production and technologies

Under the backdrop of climate change and national and global commitments to combat its causes and effects, farms in Canada are increasingly transitioning toward sustainable practices. Data from the 2021 Census of Agriculture show an increased number of farms reporting renewable energy production and the use of select technologies on farms.

Renewable energy production not only gives Canada’s farmers the opportunity to add a sustainable practice to their operations but also provides them with a source of revenue for energy sales to the grid and a way to save on future energy costs.

In addition to renewable energy production, Canada’s farms have been relying on other types of technology that can help decrease labor costs, improve the accuracy and efficiency of farm processes, and increase competitiveness in the global trade market.

This article first examines how the use of renewable energy production on farms has evolved since the previous census. It then explores technology adoption and the development of technology use on farms between 2015 and 2020.

Renewable energy production rates on farms in Canada has doubled from the previous census
In 2021, there were 22,576 farms that reported at least one form of renewable energy production. They accounted for 11.9% of farms in Canada, more than doubling the rate reported in the previous Census of Agriculture (5.3%).

Four main types of renewable energy production could be reported in the 2021 Census of Agriculture. Of all farms in Canada, 7.7% reported solar energy production, 2.9% reported bioenergy production, 1.9% reported geothermal energy production, and 1.0% reported wind energy production. Bioenergy was further sub-categorized into biofuel (reported by 168 farms), biomass combustion (5,330 farms), biomethane (126 farms), and other biogas (61 farms). Bioenergy options are not mutually exclusive—some farms are producing more than one type of bioenergy (Chart 1).

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