Greenhouse gas implications of new hydropower generation

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While even renewable resources like wind, solar, and hydro have some greenhouse gas (GHG) implications, assessments have shown that our new hydropower projects are virtually GHG-free.

Bar chart comparing GHG of hydroelectric power to other electric technologies.

Comparison of the life cycle GHG implications of our newest hydroelectric generating stations to other electricity technologies.

Enlarge image: Bar chart comparing GHG of hydroelectric power to other electric technologies.

For new facilities being constructed, a detailed life cycle assessment of the GHG implications is undertaken as part of each project’s environmental impact assessment. Life cycle analysis is a tool that compares not only the implications from the operation of a facility, such as the burning of fossil fuels, but also the implications associated with the facility’s construction, manufacturing of components, transportation, changes in land use, and decommissioning.

By incorporating land use change, these life cycle analyses continue to demonstrate that GHG emissions are not a significant issue for the planned reservoirs in Manitoba, due to the minimal amount of flooding and limited impacted forested areas. When considering life cycle GHG emissions, Wuskwatim and Keeyask are expected to result in fewer emissions per unit of energy than an average wind farm or solar photovoltaic (PV) system.

In order for North America to achieve significant reductions in GHG emissions it will be necessary to reduce our dependence on fossil fuel generation and develop more renewable generation like hydropower.