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Greenhouse gas emissions

We are a national leader in lowering our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and began voluntarily reporting our emissions in 1995. Estimating and reporting our emissions allows you to see how we are doing and helps us find areas where we can improve.

Corporate GHG emissions summary

GHG emissions from 2015 to 2019 bar chart.

Total direct emissions from 2015 to 2019 for our entire corporation.

Enlarge image: GHG emissions from 2015 to 2019 bar chart.

GHG emissions based on generation type from 1990 to 2019 graph.

Breakdown of emissions from 1990 to 2019, based on the type of generation.

Enlarge image: GHG emissions based on generation type from 1990 to 2019 graph.

In 2019, Manitoba Hydro’s total direct GHG emissions were estimated to be 109 kilotonnes (kt) of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e), a historic low.

GHG emission sources and types

We emit GHGs directly through:

  • power generation at Brandon and Selkirk generating stations (27% of all our GHG emissions in 2019);
  • our natural gas transmission and distribution system (32%);
  • fleet vehicles (23%);
  • diesel power generation for remote northern communities (11%);
  • natural gas heating in buildings we own (5%).
  • fugitive emissions from insulating gas for electrical equipment: sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) and carbon tetrafluoride (CF4) (2%).

Our activities result in emissions of CO2, methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), SF6 and CF4; these GHGs are expressed in CO2e as calculated using their appropriate global warming potential factors.

CO2 is the primary GHG emission from our operations, accounting for 66% of total 2019 emissions. CH4 accounted for approximately 31% of 2019 emissions, and N2O, and SF6/CF4 accounted for approximately 1% and 2% respectively.

GHG emission reductions

From a global perspective, the greatest contribution that we make toward GHG emission reductions results from our exports helping to displace fossil-fueled generation in neighbouring states and provinces. Our low emission intensity makes our exports a valuable resource to help reduce global GHG emissions. Our export region is dominated by coal and natural gas, so displaced generation will have high emission rates.

In 2019, our electricity exports reduced net global GHG emissions by an estimated 5,900 kt of CO2e. This is roughly equivalent to 27% of all of Manitoba’s annual GHG emissions.

GHG emission factors

Our electricity use affects GHG emissions inside and outside of Manitoba. We study GHG emissions in 2 ways:

  • a Manitoba perspective which studies the direct GHG emissions from electricity made by our natural gas generators;
  • a global perspective adds the indirect effects for emissions in the interconnected region, including the United States.

Our customers should consider which perspective best meets their needs.

Nearly all our grid-connected electricity is generated at hydroelectric generating stations. We also operate 2 natural gas generating stations as back-up for our hydroelectric system.

Annual GHG emission intensity factor from our electricity generation

  • 2020: 0.44 tonnes CO2e/GWh;
  • 2019: 0.88 tonnes CO2e/GWh;
  • 2018: 0.43 tonnes CO2e/GWh;
  • 2017: 1.27 tonnes CO2e/GWh;
  • 2016: 1.15 tonnes CO2e/GWh;

The global perspective considers changes made to incremental electricity consumption, such as through energy efficiency. We evaluate these changes based on the regional GHG effects. We currently use a factor of 750 tonnes CO2e/GWh.

GHG emissions associated with natural gas combustion

We usually use a GHG emission factor of 0.00196 tonnes CO2/m3 for the combustion of natural gas. This factor is based on data, provided by Environment and Climate Change Canada, that is used in the application of a GHG price on natural gas purchases in Manitoba.

Historical actions to reduce global GHG emissions

Our continued commitment has produced lower GHG emissions over the years.

  • Lowered provincial emissions: In 2019, our GHG emissions only added 0.5% to provincial emissions. For comparison, back in 2000 we added over 5% to provincial emissions.
  • Reduced global emissions: Since 1991, Manitoba Hydro’s operations have helped displace nearly 224 million tonnes of CO2e emissions globally.
  • Energy conservation: Our energy efficiency programs have resulted in annual energy savings of 3,700 GWh of electricity and 129 million cubic metres of natural gas. While Efficiency Manitoba now leads Manitoba’s energy conservation efforts, the climate change benefits of our work continues to persist.

GHG reduction milestones: electricity generation

Read more about new hydropower generation projects and how they affect GHG emissions.