Understanding and Assessing Impacts
Electricity infrastructure is already experiencing a range of minor and major impacts from climate change, which are likely to increase. Climate model data analysis completed by Ouranos for this report focuses on potential changes in mean temperature and precipitation for the 2041–2070 period, relative to data from 1976–2005. Under various modelling outcomes, average annual temperatures will increase by 2.0–3.5 degrees Celsius in southern parts of Canada. Under specific modelling assumptions, spring and fall seasons will see increases in precipitation of 5–15 percent across the country. There will also be a significant increase in mean winter precipitation across the country with some regions more strongly affected than others. In addition, the current scientific literature on extreme events stresses the increasing frequency and magnitude of warm days and heat waves, more frequent precipitation extremes, and potential drought changes (reduced aridity in winter, increased aridity in summer).
For the electricity sector, climate change may increase costs across all steps in the value chain: extraction, processing, generation, transmission and distribution. Costs may increase as a result of damaged infrastructure, higher insurance premiums, water constraints, increased regulatory obligations, and legal liabilities. Similarly, revenues may decrease through the increased frequency and/or duration of outages, reduced supply availability (especially hydro), and through reduced infrastructure efficiencies. Adaptation practices may help avoid these increased costs and reduced revenues. While some adaptation practices will have implementation costs, they will be lower than the costs of inaction.