Applicable SDG: SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy
As the world strives to meet the Paris Agreement targets, the low-carbon future requires accessible and reliable energy. Natural gas is a crucial piece of that puzzle as a practical and affordable solution. To that end, we safely transport and store more than 25 per cent of North America’s daily natural gas supply and help connect this clean-burning fuel to global partners. We increase the world’s access to cleaner energy and build a bridge to renewable sources, while reducing global GHG emissions and enhancing energy security and economic stability.
TC Energy’s business is made up of pipeline and storage assets that transport, store or deliver natural gas and crude oil as well as power generation assets that produce electricity to support businesses and communities across the continent. Our purpose is to deliver the energy people need, every day. Safely. Responsibly. Collaboratively. With integrity. It’s the cornerstone in how we live our values and directly aligns with SDG Goal 7 to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy.
Sustainability at TC Energy means meeting today’s energy needs, while safely, reliably and economically finding responsible solutions for our energy future. This is not something new to us; rather, it’s a continuous evolution of our principled approach to creating enduring economic and societal value, while protecting the planet. We have a long-standing history of responsible performance and achieving key sustainability milestones.
At TC Energy, we look at long-term energy scenarios pertaining to how the energy transition will unfold from multiple organizations. We monitor trends specific to energy supply and demand fundamentals, broader energy trends, in addition to analyzing how our portfolio will perform under one or more outlooks. These results contribute to the identification of opportunities to maintain our resilience, strengthen our asset base or seek diversification, if required.
Our three major lines of business provide diversification as the energy future unfolds, allowing us to allocate capital to various opportunities across the energy infrastructure sector. Our existing extensive footprint offers replenishable growth opportunities and our long-life infrastructure assets covering strategic North American corridors and supported by long-term commercial arrangements, are the cornerstones of our low-risk business model.
Our pipeline assets include large-scale natural gas and liquids pipelines and associated storage facilities that connect low cost supply basins with stable and growing North American and export markets, generating predictable and sustainable energy supply. Our power and non-regulated storage assets are primarily under long-term contracts that provide energy supply stability and resilience.
TC Energy’s record of adapting to change in a constantly evolving energy system demonstrates our ability to reduce risks, create opportunities and leverage our skills and abilities.
We continuously monitor energy supply trends and assess the resilience of our business to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy and promote innovation relevant to clean energy research and technology. Transporting natural gas – the cleanest-burning fossil fuel – in our pipelines continues to support the significant shift away from coal-fired power generation occurring in North America and beyond. We have a role in developing North America’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) export industry with several pipeline projects in the U.S. and Canada.
We believe technological innovation is critical to managing the complex and inter-related issues surrounding climate change, which is why we strategically invest in technology development and collaborative research and development (R&D) opportunities to improve our own performance and that of our sector. With demand for low-emissions natural gas and electricity steadily climbing, the industry must continuously seek out new technologies to improve system and process efficiencies and limit the release of emissions.
One of the long-term sustainability commitments we set in 2020 is to enhance energy sector sustainability through research and development (R&D) and innovation investments. Annually, TC Energy captures innovation initiatives from across our company and highlights the value that our investments bring to the company, both tangibly and intangibly. The research initiatives of today empower us to make advancements in technology to reach our goals, contribute to SDG 7 targets and improve the safety and reliability of our operations.
SDG Target 7.1
Since 2010, we have invested more than C$150 million (MM) in technology development and innovation, supporting both internal research initiatives as well as collaborative industry partnerships. Annually, the TDI team compiles benefits derived from the innovation efforts to ensure our portfolio aligns with and delivers on our business needs.
Many projects result in benefits that can be quantified as financial contributions to the company. Based on the information collected corporate wide, for the total reported expenditure incurred for technology and innovation initiatives of C$14.9MM in 2019, the net benefit derived is estimated to be C$74.7MM. Over the last five years TC Energy has invested approximately C$52.3MM in technology and innovation and has created value in the order of C$443.4MM – a value ratio of approximately 9:1.
For some technology projects, value does not lie in monetary contributions but in other critically important areas. They often are enablers to other major projects, or they indirectly add value to the company’s business by upholding and advancing our core values of safety, integrity, responsibility and collaboration. For example, our efforts have led to the creation of several internal specifications. These changes allow for significant reduction in the likelihood of leaks and enable improvement in both our and broader industry environmental performance.
SDG Target 7.a
In 2019, TC Energy spent C$2.5MM on collaborative innovation projects with different industry partners and research networks. Total spend in these projects (from all funding parties) was about C$20.4MM, giving a value ratio of approximately 8:1. In other words, for every dollar TC Energy invested in these projects, our development partners contributed $8, thus minimizing our financial risk and allowing us to use joint industry efforts and investment as a lever to advance our innovation needs. We also take pride in our strong collaboration with higher education research institutions: in 2019, we were involved in eight research projects at five universities across Canada. By leveraging our extensive network of industry and research partners, we have the ability to select the optimal strategy for each innovation challenge and to make the most effective use of our investment. This partnership also leads to training and recruiting the best students through these partnerships. TC Energy also partners with organizations such as the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) and contributes to the modification of their standards. Additionally, we continue to shape industry best practices and technology development through our strategic involvement in various research and innovation-related industry associations and initiatives with Pipeline Research Council International (PRCI), Petroleum Technology Alliance Canada (PTAC), Canadian Energy Pipeline Association (CEPA), American Gas Association (AGA) and Intelligent Pipeline Integrity Program (iPipe).
In 2019, 14 technical papers and presentations were published in various journals and conferences. Our publication efforts demonstrate our commitment to sharing the knowledge generated through research and innovation and contribute to the advancements of the industry, in terms of enhanced safety, reliability and environmental performance. These efforts enhance our image as a leading and world class energy infrastructure company and strengthen our reputation with the regulators and our broader stakeholder community.
As demonstrated by our purpose and commitments, TC Energy is continuously working to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy services and facilitating access to clean energy research and technology. We are focused on investing in emerging technologies and innovative solutions that drive our safe, reliable and sustainable operations forward. We encourage creative thinking within our teams, celebrate bold and progressive ideas through ideation, and strategically invest in collaborative R&D opportunities to improve our own performance – and that of our sector.
As an organization with diverse businesses in natural gas and liquids transportation and storage and power generation, we are evolving to support the world’s future energy demands. We continue to advance investments in projects displacing coal-fired electricity generation, reducing methane and GHG emissions, expanding renewables and supporting critical research.
SDG Target 7.1
Tangible and intangible benefits:
For over half a century, we have pioneered innovative technology and practices to enhance efficiency and reduce emissions at our facilities. For example, in the mid-2000s, TC Energy was the first Canadian company to test prototypes of hand-held, high-flow, leak-detection samplers that were 20 times faster and significantly more accurate than traditional methods. We have been instrumental in distributing this breakthrough technology across the industry. Our liquids pipelines also feature several solar and propane powered meter stations operating the electrical actuators on the pipeline.
Since 2019, we’ve made investments in next-generation technology and clean fuel research, including:
TC Energy’s ongoing modernization of its Columbia Gas Transmission system consists of more than $2.5 billion in system enhancements. The work done under this program has led to improvements in reliability of service, integrity of assets and efficiency of operations—all while reducing emissions. Our $2.5 billion investment in U.S. natural gas system enhancements between 2012 and 2016 has avoided approximately 258,000 metric tonnes CO₂e emissions since 2013.
Electrification investment also complements our natural gas pipeline business, as seen in Mexico. For over a decade, Mexico has significantly transitioned to natural gas from fuel oil and diesel as its primary electricity generation source. The subsequent natural gas demand growth required new pipeline infrastructure. At December 31, 2019, TC Energy had invested approximately US$1.4 billion in capital expenditure commitments for its construction of the Villa de Reyes (US$0.8 billion) and Tula (US$0.6 billion) Mexico natural gas pipeline projects. We also placed Sur de Texas Mexico-based pipeline in service and completed the East Section of Tula, which is available for interruptible transportation services.
We also continue to look closely at lower-carbon fuel development to economically support the global energy transition. This includes examining the potential of blending hydrogen into our existing natural gas pipelines or adding dedicated hydrogen assets along our footprint. For all opportunities, we must understand the implications for our assets and stakeholders. This builds on what we’ve learned since first transporting renewable natural gas (RNG) in our gas transmission system in 2014.
SDG Target 7.a
TC Energy actively collaborates with our peers, industry associations, universities, and government organizations to develop technologies, standards and practices that advance the pipeline industry knowledge and pipeline related technologies. Our extensive network of industry and research partners allows TC Energy to choose the best approach to advance our research and innovation priorities by leveraging the joint resources and expertise where and when it makes the most sense. This approach enables TC Energy to use joint investments and collaborative efforts as a lever and maximize the gain from our limited resources while at the same time minimizing the inherent risk of innovation and technology development projects.
Key impacts and results of this work include the nomination of two industry awards in 2020:
Every year the outcomes from our technology projects are disseminated to the industry, regulators and the world via publications in peer reviewed journals as well as through presentations made by our technical specialists attending technical conferences and association meetings where they share and exchange new ideas on how to improve pipeline safety and operation efficiency. Publications in journals have an importance as they allow for the validation of research results by industry peers and experts in the scientific community, thus confirming and enhancing the credibility of our work.
Our communications strategy rests in using fit-for-purpose communications tools to deliver concise, targeted messages in meaningful ways to our audiences. We use online, traditional and multimedia channels that help engage our audiences in a conversation about the initiatives and programs we use to deliver reliable and affordable energy across North America. We’re focused on communicating more than just information to our audiences, we want our communications approach to feel like an inclusive experience.
Released on October 20, 2020, our Report on Sustainability and ESG Data Sheet communicate TC Energy’s alignment with the SDGs and our measurable and achievable path to reaching our sustainability commitments. In building awareness for these publications and their contents, we aimed to build and elevate TC Energy’s sustainability story among internal and external audiences; and, inform and educate employees and key external stakeholders on TC Energy’s sustainability direction. To achieve those goals, we are providing concise, easily accessible/searchable information in an interactive format using channels that are most useful to our stakeholders and provide a regular drumbeat of content.
While several communication tools were used to target external and internal stakeholders, online remains the focus for how our company builds awareness for our sustainability progress (including SDG alignment). We provided alignment tables for key third party reporting frameworks that are priorities for our stakeholders, including the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) and the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB).
A five-week social media campaign was used to increase awareness and engagement of the Report and complementary products with followers on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
Efforts combined increased our online impressions and reach by at least 15% over our 2019 release of our inaugural Report on Sustainability and Climate Change.
The first half of 2020 highlighted the importance and true meaning of sustainability and our advancement of the SDGs. Our dedicated workforce, the financial health and stability of the company and our robust business continuity planning meant that we could respond almost immediately. Our infrastructure was available, and operations continued virtually seamlessly. That’s also, in part, due to approximately 95 per cent of our income being from regulated assets and long-term contracts. This commercial structure and approach insulate us from the unpredictability associated with market instability. We recognize, however, that these are challenging times for many – in our industry and beyond. The pandemic provides a strong reminder that a healthy core business is what enables us to protect and empower our people, ensure prosperity for North Americans, and make the investments needed to transition to a lower-GHG emission future.
The health and safety of our workforce remain our top priority as we consider business needs and productivity. We are transitioning employees back to some of our offices in a phased approach and have implemented extensive health and safety protocols to keep employees healthy and prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our offices. We continue to execute our extensive programs to help protect our worksites and our essential personnel working there. These protocols are based on comprehensive risk assessments and guidance from governments and public health authorities. For detail on the precautions we are taking to keep our workforce, including our contract workforce and suppliers, safe, healthy and able to work, see our COVID-19 Fact Sheet.
Remote working continues to be part of our everyday normal, as many of our office-based employees split their time between home and offices. We are proud of how we have built our digital capacity and business resiliency to make this seamlessly possible.
We’re continuing to listen, learn and use public health authorities and government assessments and guidance to inform our controlled, measured approach of returning people to the office, and we will adapt and adjust as things evolve.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared in March, we’ve contributed more than C$3.8 million in donations to organizations responding to the crisis – including more than C$592,000 contributed by our workforce. Collectively, these donations have helped to reduce food insecurity, equip first responders and healthcare workers with supplies and address unique needs in the communities we call home. After the pandemic was declared in March, TC Energy’s Indigenous Relations team proactively reached out to more than 200 Indigenous groups across our Canada, U.S. and Mexico footprint to see how we could best support them through the pandemic. Since then, we’ve provided approximately C$1.4 million in financial support to Indigenous groups to help with access to basic needs. As we look forward to the remainder of 2020, we are continuing these efforts with a focus on community recovery.
In the short-term, we have targets related to maintaining and increasing participation in our community and workplace giving programs. We will also continue, as we have since before and the early days of the pandemic, to supply the trusted, reliable and affordable energy that is heating and cooling our homes; lighting hospitals, restaurants and local businesses; transporting supplies and goods across Canada, the U.S. and Mexico; and powering other health and educational services that we all rely on.
We are well-positioned to continue the safe and reliable delivery of energy as our operations, project construction, commercial and regulatory activities continue. Business continuity plans are in place, specific to various sites and regions as capabilities and the needs of the business vary. One of the long-term sustainability commitments we set in 2020 is to strengthen local community, Indigenous group and employee resilience, including recovery and moving forward from the COVID-19 pandemic. Our activities will focus on buying locally where possible, supporting many small businesses, in many communities that have been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.
An additional priority of the post-COVID-19 period must be to effectively tackle the challenge of climate change by finding new and innovative ways to reduce GHG emissions while still ensuring reliable access to the energy necessary to meet societal requirements. We believe technological innovation is critical to managing the complex and inter-related issues surrounding climate change, which is why we will continue to strategically invest in collaborative R&D opportunities to improve our own performance and that of industry (above see our response to ‘Please describe the initiatives/programs that your company is taking to address the TARGETS’).
Despite the challenges of the pandemic, we remain focused on what we do and how we do it. The energy we provide is critical and has been recognized as essential by governments in every jurisdiction in which we operate across North America – it is a responsibility we take very seriously. See our website for more detail on how we’re moving forward during COVID-19 and the latest on our COVID-19 relief and recovery efforts.