Bright sparks wanted for a more efficient Canada

Canada's global energy success will be powered by an electrifed economy, leading voices in Canada's energy sector told CNBC's EnergyFuture brainstorm in Toronto last week.

A move towards electrified transport infrastructure, along with smarter management around extraction and end-use, would provide the foundations for a cleaner overall supply, the get-together heard.

Bruce Lourie, president of the Ivey Foundation, which promotes environmental sustainability, called for increased investment in innovation around storage technology to help drive this electrification.

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"If Canada can become the leader in storage technology globally, we can export that as one of our unique competitive advantages," he told the room.

Lourie claimed that these moves would also allow for a Canada's lower carbon footprint.

"We can provide to the world the cleanest fuel because we will be helping produce and extract it using decarbonised electricity," he said.

"We will have more fuel available to export, because we will be using so little ourselves through demand management."

Jacob Irving, president of the Canadian Hydropower Association, backed this call. As the third largest producer of hydro electricity in the world, he told CNBC, the country has "one of the cleanest and most renewable energy systems in the world."

"For most countries, their number one source of carbon emissions comes from burning fossil fuels to make electricity. In Canada, 60 per cent of our electricity comes from hydro power."

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Capin Zaini | Flickr | Capin Zaini

Irving claimed that the megawattage coming online soon from new hydro projects was enough on its own to electrify Canada's light vehicle fleet.

"We also have wind, we have solar, we almost have an embarrassment of riches in Canada in terms of our energy sources," he said.

"All we have to do is stitch them together better and have the world want to buy our product more."

Carmine Marcello, CEO of Hydro One Incorporated, agreed that his industry should play a key role in decarbonising the transportation sector.

"We would use that as a vehicle for a more efficient Canada," he said.

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"This would ultimately free up our products and services as greener products and services for the rest of the world."

Participants at the CNBC Energy Future brainstorm agreed that it would take more than just good intentions and the impetus of the market to electrify the economy. Irving told CNBC that a carbon tax would not slow down the country's energy growth.

"If there's any country in the world that could take a 'what, me worry?' stance, it should be Canada," he said.

"We're a net exporter of every different type of energy. A carbon price would not effect our ability to power ourselves. In fact, it would help us clean up our offering to ourselves and to the world."

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