Greenhouse gas emissions

We are a national leader in managing 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

Bar chart of Manitoba Hydro direct GHG emissions.

Manitoba Hydro direct emissions relative to target.
Enlarge image.

In 2017 Manitoba Hydro’s total direct GHG emissions were estimated to be 107 kilotonnes (kt) of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e), nearly the same as 2016, which was an historic low.

GHG emission sources and types

We emit GHGs directly through:

  • natural gas power generation (42% of all our GHG emissions in 2017);
  • our natural gas transmission and distribution system (22%);
  • fleet vehicles (19%);
  • diesel power generation for remote northern communities (12%);
  • natural gas heating in buildings we own (4%).
  • fugitive emissions from insulating gas for electrical equipment: sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) and carbon tetrafluoride (CF4) (1%).

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 77% of total 2017 emissions. CH4 accounted for approximately 21% of 2017 emissions, and N2O, and SF6/CF4 accounted for approximately 1% and 1% 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-fuelled 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 heavily dominated by coal and so displaced generation will often be coal-fired, with a high emission rate.

In 2017, our electricity exports reduced net global GHG emissions by an estimated 8,100 kt of CO2e. This is roughly equivalent to removing nearly 1.7 million vehicles from the road.

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 of 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:

  • 2017: 1.25 tonnes CO2e/GWh;
  • 2016: 1.13 tonnes CO2e/GWh;
  • 2015: 2.89 tonnes CO2e/GWh;
  • 2014: 2.31 tonnes CO2e/GWh;
  • 2013: 2.65 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 0.0019 tonnes CO2e/m3 for the combustion of natural gas.

This factor is based on data provided in the National Inventory Report: Part 2 (Annex 6).

Historical actions to reduce global GHG emissions

We have worked over the years to reduce GHG emissions. Our continued commitment has produced these results.

  • Lowered provincial emissions: In 2017, 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 approximately 214 million tonnes of CO2e emissions globally.
  • Energy conservation: Our energy efficiency programs have resulted in annual energy savings of 2,928 GWh of electricity and 112 million cubic meters of natural gas. These energy savings reduce GHG emissions globally by approximately 2.2 million tonnes of CO2e every year.

GHG reduction milestones: electricity generation

  • completed the 200-MW hydroelectric Wuskwatim Generating Station;
  • 138-MW power purchase agreement with St. Joseph Wind Farm;
  • 115.5-MW power purchase agreement with St. Leon Wind Farm;
  • converted Selkirk Generating Station from coal to natural gas;
  • retired all 5 remaining coal units at Brandon Generating Station (we no longer burn coal);
  • connected 9 northern diesel communities to our transmission system;
  • completed the 1,330-MW hydroelectric Limestone Generating Station;
  • Started construction of the 695-MW hydroelectric Keeyask Generation Project.

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