The Keeyask Project is a 695-megawatt (MW) hydroelectric generating station that is being developed in a partnership between Manitoba Hydro and 4 Manitoba First Nations: Tataskweyak Cree Nation, War Lake First Nation, York Factory First Nation, and Fox Lake Cree Nation. Working together, the Partners are known collectively as the Keeyask Hydropower Limited Partnership. It is located approximately 725 km north of Winnipeg on the lower Nelson River. Well aware of its dependency on climate and streamflows, Manitoba Hydro incorporated the assessment of future climate into its business strategy and resource planning. During the last decade, the study of climate change has become an integral part of several environmental and economic assessments. To assess the potential impacts of climate change, the company’s team of climate-savvy engineers selected five out of 109 Global Climate Model (GCM) simulations to represent future changes in average system inflows through the 2050s—the equivalent of a 35-year planning horizon. The selected projections cover 90% of all the climate simulations’ uncertainty and range from a 9.6% reduction in overall inflows to a 28% increase. To integrate this hydrological assessment into an economic-feasibility analysis, the change signals from the five simulations were added to the observed long-term streamflow database record. The resulting five future stream flow scenarios were then fed into the Simulation Program for Long-term Analysis of System Hydraulics (SPLASH) to estimate average annual revenues. With 70% of the initial 109 climate model projections showing increased inflows, the analysis attributed a higher likelihood of increased revenues to the plan which included Keeyask.
After initiating a study of climate change impacts on its operations more than a decade ago, Manitoba Hydro incorporated climate change impacts into the environmental assessment and economic assessment of the 695 megawatt (MW) Keeyask Generating Station, located on the lower Nelson River of northern Manitoba. Research shows that changes in climate and hydrological conditions can increasingly affect the future operation, performance and safety of existing hydropower assets. Regulators recognized the necessity to ensure that the new facility would operate effectively and efficiently under climate change, namely, periods of prolonged drought and changes in seasonal water cycles, precipitation, evapotranspiration, radiation and wind. Manitoba Hydro conducted studies about historic climate trends, and developed future climate scenarios, which was incorporated into the regulatory approvals and environmental licensing process.