The Quebec government is investing $1.2 billion over five years in its first green hydrogen and bioenergy strategy, with the primary goal of using it to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
“We are leaving with the desire to reach our reduction targets and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050,” Energy and Natural Resources Minister Jonatan Julien said in an interview.
Quebec estimates that it will be able to reduce its GHG emissions by an additional four megatons by 2030, which represents 13% of the total effort.
These megatons were included in 51% of the media already identified by the Ministry of the Environment in its recent update. The amounts were also already in the recent budget.
According to the Minister, these tools are the least expensive to achieve the goal as quickly as possible, mainly due to the maturity of biofuels.
In addition, it is bioenergy that receives most of the cake of the 1,200 million dollars projected until 2026. No less than 950 million dollars are allocated to it.
“Biofuels are much more mature. We are much further along,” said Mr. Julien.
Green hydrogen remains a sector of the future that will improve over time. “Yes to green hydrogen”, but “you have to learn to walk before learning to run”, illustrates the minister. “We are going to do it in Quebec, but it will not be for export. It will be to decarbonize Quebec.”
To create this green energy, hydroelectricity is essential. Although Hydro-Quebec will be a strategic partner, hydroelectric surpluses are “ending,” the minister recalls.
Thus, hydrogen and bioenergy will mainly support the main actions undertaken to improve Quebec’s performance, such as energy savings and electrification.
With this addition, the CWC government is aiming for energy self-sufficiency, by allowing heavy transport and certain emitting industries to also achieve carbon neutrality.
Clean hydrogen (green), made with hydroelectricity, costs 2 to 5 times more than that created with hydrocarbons (gray).
But seven years from now, green hydrogen should be just as competitive. The Minister knows that the demand for hydrogen will skyrocket in the coming years.
To achieve this, the government will provide financial assistance for innovation, local businesses, and the export of Québec know-how.
“We must now invest in Quebec, both in research and by investing in companies that will make supply and demand,” explained the minister, especially since the demand for hydrogen will be stronger and stronger. “We want to become leaders with our experience,” he said.
Outside of the planned budget, the government could also acquire stakes in companies that qualify with Investissement Québec.
The official opposition, which proposes a project of 100,000 million dollars until 2050 to nationalize green hydrogen, believes that the government’s strategy is timid.
“A strategy without ambition,” said chef Dominique Anglade. “This is no longer the time for shyness. So we are facing a government that does not develop any vision when we have a great economic development project that awaits us and that would respond to a global problem, but with a response from Quebec.
However, the strategy was welcomed by the vast majority of stakeholders, such as the Quebec Association for Renewable Energy Production (AQPER) and Équiterre.
“It is good to see that the government has not fallen into the trap of presenting hydrogen as a miracle solution for the climate or the economy. We must prioritize sobriety and energy efficiency, then put the right energy in the right place,” said Émilie Boisseau-Bouvier, a climate policy analyst at Équiterre.
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