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Greenhouse gas emissions

We are a national leader in lowering our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and began voluntarily reporting our GHG emissions in 1995. Measuring, estimating, and reporting our GHG 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 2016 to 2020 bar chart.

Total direct GHG emissions from 2016 to 2020 for our entire corporation.

Enlarge image: GHG emissions from 2016 to 2020 bar chart.

GHG emissions based on generation type from 1990 to 2020 graph.

Breakdown of GHG emissions from 1990 to 2020, based on the type of generation.

Enlarge image: GHG emissions based on generation type from 1990 to 2020 graph.

In 2020, Manitoba Hydro’s total direct GHG emissions were estimated to be 96 kilotonnes (kt) of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e), a historic low.

GHG emission sources and types

We emit GHGs directly through:

  • power generation at the Brandon generating station (17% of all our GHG emissions in 2020);
  • our natural gas transmission and distribution system (36%);
  • fleet vehicles (25%);
  • diesel power generation for remote northern communities (14%);
  • natural gas heating in buildings we own (6%).
  • 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 62% of total 2020 emissions. CH4 accounted for approximately 35% of 2020 GHG 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 GHG 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 GHG emission rates.

In 2020, our electricity exports reduced net global GHG emissions by an estimated 8,700 kt of CO2e. This is roughly equivalent to 38% 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 GHG 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 1 natural gas generating station as a back-up for our hydroelectric system.

Annual GHG emission intensity factor from our electricity generation

  • 2021: 1.14 tonnes CO2e/GWh;
  • 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 2020, our GHG emissions only contributed 0.4% to provincial emissions. For comparison, back in 2000 we contributed to over 5% of provincial emissions.
  • Reduced global GHG emissions: Since 1991, Manitoba Hydro’s operations have helped displace nearly 232 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

  • Completed the 1,350-MW hydroelectric Limestone generating station (1992);
  • Connected 9 northern diesel communities to our transmission system (1998);
  • Converted Selkirk generating station from coal to natural gas (2002);
  • Ongoing 116-MW power purchase agreement with St. Leon Wind Farm (since 2005);
  • Ongoing 138-MW power purchase agreement with St. Joseph Wind Farm (since 2011);
  • Completed the 211-MW hydroelectric Wuskwatim generating station (2012);
  • Ceased burning coal at Brandon generating station (2018);
  • Took Selkirk generating station offline (2021);
  • Currently completing construction of the 695-MW hydroelectric Keeyask generating station. The station is currently partially online and producing renewable power.

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