More about Nova Scotia Power
Nova Scotia Power (an Emera company) is a leading North American Utility company, that generates more than 2,400MW of electricity from a variety of sources, including hydro, coal, petroleum coke, fuel oil, biomass, natural gas, and wind. Their more than $5 billion worth of generation, transmission and distribution assets produce over 10,000 gigawatt hours of electricity each year. NSP is committed to operating in a manner which is respectful and protective of the environment: "Through embracing innovation and making significant changes in the way we generate and deliver electricity, we are a national leader in carbon reduction, ensuring our electricity is sustainable – both economically and environmentally – for future generations."
The electricity sector’s generation, transmission and distribution infrastructure assets are highly exposed to increasing physical climate risks and are subject to disruption. Recognizing the potential impact that a warming climate has to its operations, Nova Scotia Power (NSP), a leading North American power utility, worked with a consortium of climate specialists including Manifest Climate, Mantle Developments and WTW to strengthen its climate adaptation based on a range of possible climate futures.
Manifest Climate and its sister company, Mantle Developments, educated key teams on climate risk and incorporated climate considerations into NSP’s asset management processes. WTW, through its Climate and Resilience Hub (CRH), utilized its Climate QuantifiedTM analytics services to derive industry-specific data on relevant climate considerations. Working together with NSP, this team of climate specialists delivered a package of data, tools, knowledge and capacity building to raise the climate capabilities of NSP’s risk teams.
Through this project, NSP achieved objectives of:
There were three main challenges in incorporating climate scenario data into a utility’s operations. First, a major driver for NSP was their recognition that more needed to be done to understand climate change and its potential impact on their business. Climate change and scenario analysis are not yet part of traditional training for energy sector professionals. Manifest Climate addressed this challenge through targeted training. Second, while utility infrastructure is directly exposed to both event-driven acute and longer-term chronic climate change impacts, it is surprisingly difficult to openly source utility-specific climate data at the local level. NSP required credible data founded on rigorous and best-in-class science specific to their operations. WTW provided the specialized understanding and tools to source, collate, and interpret the data for NSP’s needs. Third, climate scenario data is not usually provided in a user-friendly format; often found with varying characteristics and at resolutions not relevant to the decision-making process of a utility. The WTW team translated the asset-specific climate data into a consumable form for NSP and Manifest Climate and Mantle Developments developed a tool to help NSP prioritize the most relevant subsets of the data by asset type. These steps are described in more detail below.
To begin, Manifest Climate provided climate change and climate scenario education as well as gathered climate-related organizational information to build NSP’s climate capacity. A live education session provided a common foundation of climate language for the NSP team and introduced climate scenario modelling and the type of data the NSP team would be accessing. This first step helped the NSP team with their thinking of how to integrate climate knowledge into their risk processes and what resources are needed to analyze the multi-model, multi-scenario climate projections data.
WTW then provided the specialized understanding and tools to collect and interpret the necessary data to meet NSP’s specifications. WTW has extensive experience working with complex climate datasets and is familiar with the best sources of climate-related data for key climate variables (e.g., precipitation, temperature, sea level rise, flooding, wildfires, extreme wind, etc.). This ensured that the climate data NSP obtained was best-in-class: the most recent, and the most relevant to their operations and geographic setting. WTW developed tailored datasets that included more than 30 climate hazard indices over medium emissions (RCP4.5) and high emissions (RCP8.5) scenarios and three time horizons in a GIS-compatible format to facilitate use by NSP’s in-house GIS experts.
Finally, combining the needs of NSP and the wealth of climate data provided, Manifest Climate, Mantle Development and WTW developed the “ELAD Matrix” tool and example use cases with the climate data. The ELAD Matrix tool combined existing on-the-ground weather impact and climate knowledge to prioritize climate hazards for each utility infrastructure asset. With the key climate hazards in mind, WTW put the climate data into context for NSP and showed how to navigate the extensive dataset. This resulted in empowering NSP to identify key climate variables and their relevant thresholds for critical assets.
For example, the resiliency of hydro generating stations became informed by climate projections related to precipitation. The ELAD matrix identified that “major precipitation events” are a key variable while “changes in intensity of precipitation” was lower priority. Additionally, for particular hydro-assets, “wildfire” would also be relevant based on the local characteristics of the watershed. WTW then demonstrated how the GIS datasets can be navigated to gather insights for specific climate variables. With this information, NSP’s team could then operationalize the data.