Smart Grid Deployment and Climate Change Response: Evaluating Climate Change Integration in Ontario's Smart Grid Deployment Regime
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Smart grid (SG) is modern electricity infrastructure that has the capacity to facilitate mitigation and adaptation to climate change through technological, institutional, and behavioral interventions. However, despite the capacity to respond to climate change, development and deployment of SG technology also has the potential to facilitate increased GHG emissions or result in the development of a maladaptive grid. By formally integrating climate change considerations into SG deployment regimes, electricity stakeholders can mitigate the risk of contributing to GHG emissions or implementing a maladaptive grid as well as ensure that SG deployment facilitates a comprehensive and efficient response to climate change. The purpose of this research was to explore the SG deployment regime in Ontario between 2004 and 2013 within the context of climate change. Specifically, this thesis aimed to evaluate evidence of climate change integration within Ontario’s SG deployment regime and identify gaps in climate change integration. Ultimately, the objective was to identify areas of SG deployment where climate change integration could be strengthened to assist stakeholders in implementing a SG that results in a positive and comprehensive response to climate change. Through a content analysis of publically available documents published by electricity stakeholders, it was found that several SG initiatives inadvertently demonstrated climate change integration or an inadvertent response to climate change. There was no evidence that electricity stakeholders explicitly considered climate change in SG deployment activities. In particular, gaps were identified in components of climate change integration related to climate change impact assessments, project evaluations, long-term planning, and consumer education and public awareness. Overall, it is recommended that electricity stakeholders take measures to explicitly consider climate change in future SG deployment activities. As Ontario is a global leader in SG deployment, climate change integration in Ontario’s electricity sector could set a precedent and inspire other jurisdictions pursuing SG technology to do the same, both across Canada and globally.