Energy Supply and Demand
Mitigation and Adaptation Required
Weather and climate change impacts on both the production of energy as well as the demand for energy. The most significant response to climate change from the energy sector will be to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with oil and gas production and electrical generation from coal. Adaptation to climate change can help to reduce the per capita demand for energy and encourage new sources of clean energy such as renewables (i.e. wind and solar). Environmental protection efforts by the energy sector will also have to be adapted to new climate and weather conditions.
What You Should Know
- Saskatchewan's climate is expected to be:
- more variable and
- experience more frequent and more intense extreme events (e.g. heavy precipitation or drought).
- Precipitations patterns will change - likely wetter, earlier springs and drier summers
- Droughts may increase in intensity and duration
- Increasing water scarcity and water supply variability are the major climate change risks to energy industries.
On Energy Demand
- Demand for energy is partly driven by temperatures as these impact space heating and cooling needs for residential and commercial buildings and vehicles as well as agricultural applications (e.g. irrigation and grain drying).
- More frequent and severe heat waves in summer will increase the demand for electricity for air-conditioning.
- Warmer and shorter winters mean less demand for space heating.
On Renewable Energy Sources
- Climate change is not likely to have a substantial effect on solar-generated power unless there is a large change in cloud cover.
- Wind generated power has substantial potential across the Prairie Provinces, as sustained winds are common. Changes in sustained wind speeds under climate warming are possible as temperature gradients from the equator to the pole are reduced. There is some evidence of reduced wind speeds on the Prairies during “El Nino” events.
- Decreasing water flows from Alberta due to glacial ice decline, lower snow accumulation and increased water consumption in Alberta may reduce hydroelectric generation in Saskatchewan.
On Energy Exploration and Development
- Exploration, maintenance and other activities that require frozen surfaces for operation will be constrained by shorter and milder winters.
- Warmer, shorter winters may make outside work easier and safer.
- Longer and warmer summers mean reduced exploration, drilling, and construction costs. Heat waves, however, bring increased risks of air pollution.
- Environmental remediation activities may be negatively affected by droughts
On Energy Production and Transmission
- Oil and Gas Production
Water scarcity from wells and surface waters could be a limiting factor in production of some oil and natural gas.
- Oil Refining
The oil refining sector will experience increased potential for vaporization leaks as a result of longer and hotter summers. Greater cooling capacity will be needed.
- Thermal Electric Generation
Warming of surface waters of cooling reservoirs for thermal electric generation will tend to decrease their quality and quantity, and increase the need for monitoring and treatment.
- Transmission Lines
Electricity transmission lines are susceptible to extreme weather events such as high temperatures and ice-storms. Such events could decrease the reliability of the electricity service. In the North, increased forest fire frequency may affect some transmission lines.
- Pipeline Infrastructure
Warming is already causing substantial permafrost degradation in many parts of the North, leading to land instability, soil collapse and slope failures. This creates problems for foundations, roads and pipelines. There will be infrastructure costs.
- New energy projects should be designed taking into consideration climate change for both their development and operation phases
- Opportunities to reduce power consumption (i.e. increase energy efficiencies) should be pursued to reduce the vulnerability to climate change and to help in mitigating climate change.
- Existing energy sources should be reviewed in light of the risk posed by climate change and contingency plans developed where necessary. (eg. where cooling water sources are threatened)
Example of Adaptation in the Energy Field:
Improving energy efficiency is an adaptation strategy that yields several benefits. It reduces the overall demand for energy thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions. There is also a cost saving.
There are a number of programs to assist the homeowner in improving energy efficiency. Products are constantly being improved to reduce energy consumption, including vehicles, appliances and light bulbs. Energy efficient appliances are now labeled Energy Star and EnerGuide provides the consumer with energy consumption ratings. There are also programs and information to support homeowners in improving energy efficiency during home renovations and retrofitting.
- The Centre for Energy (no date): Energy Facts and Statistics, Saskatchewan. [accesssed March 16, 2010]
- Climate Change Saskatchewan (no date): Energy Resources in Saskatchewan: Dealing with a Changing Climate. [accessed March 16, 2010]
- Sauchyn, D.J. and Kulshreshtha, S. (2008): Prairies; in From Impacts to Adaptation: Canada in a Changing Climate 2007, (eds.) D.S. Lemmen, F.J. Warren, J. Lacroix, and E. Bush; Government of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, p. 275-328. Chapter 7: Prairies Report