Energy transition |  Quebec is not immune to the lack of electricity

Energy transition | Quebec is not immune to the lack of electricity

(Montreal) Quebec and the other provinces in the center and east of the country are heading towards a significant lack of available electricity to cover the various needs generated by the energy transition.

Posted yesterday at 4:06 pm

stephanie blais
the canadian press

That’s the warning from researchers at Polytechnique Montréal’s Trottier Energy Institute in a report titled “A Strategic Outlook for the Power Sector in Central and Eastern Canada,” published Wednesday.

According to this “white paper”, with the trajectory currently followed, most provinces will not be able to meet the electricity needs created by the increase in the fleet of electric vehicles and the decarbonization of heating in buildings, in 2030.

The researchers invite “all public electricity services to review without further delay their investment plans for the coming years.”

Quebec in a better position

At a news conference on Wednesday, Quebec’s premier hinted that the province could be left without power.

“We are open to exporting green hydrogen, if the price is good and also according to the capacities we have in electricity. Because currently, we expect that in the next few years we will run out of electricity, so we have to be careful, ”said François Legault.

However, Quebec is better positioned than the other provinces, simply because it is the largest producer of hydroelectric power in the country.

But this renewable energy source is also attracting new customers that will help increase demand in the coming years.

“Hydro-Québec sees many industries that want to establish themselves in Quebec to take advantage of electricity, and these are large industries that require a lot of energy,” said Normand Mousseau, scientific director of the Trottier Institute and a co-author of the report.

These new industries, such as data centers, cryptocurrency mining centers or agricultural greenhouses, will contribute to increasing demand, but so will the industries already present in the territory and that will have to decarbonize in the coming years, leaving therefore fossil fuels for renewable energy.

Decarbonization issues in Quebec are also related to transportation, as the province aims to have a fleet of 1.5 million electric vehicles by 2030 and stop selling gasoline vehicles by 2035.

“Hydro-Québec is largely capable of meeting the demand that comes from electric vehicles, institutional commercial buildings and manufacturers,” said Normand Mousseau, specifying, however, that electricity export contracts in the United States “run the risk of reducing the distributor’s margin of manoeuvre”. and “we risk ending up with a deficit by 2030.”

Focus on wind power

Therefore, Hydro-Quebec will have to find new sources of electricity and the distributor cannot rely on natural gas due to the province’s climate commitments, according to the researcher.

The answer, according to Normand Mousseau, does not lie in the construction of new dams either.

“The reservoirs give the network immense flexibility, but today we no longer have the capacity to flood territories like in the past. From an environmental point of view and from a social acceptability point of view, it does not happen”, said the scientific director of the Trottier Institute.

The solution, therefore, lies in the construction of new wind farms, according to him.

“The construction of wind turbines, piloted by Hydro-Québec to reduce costs, we can do at very competitive prices” and “if we find ourselves in a situation where we have too much electricity in Quebec, we will be able to sell without a problem because the other provinces are in a situation even worse than ours.”

The authorities are not ready

The report notes that across the country, “there is a huge disconnect between current planning by power companies and the efforts that are needed to meet climate goals set by provincial and federal governments.”

Authorities underestimate “the scale of the transformation required to achieve climate goals,” Mr Mousseau specified.

In addition, researchers from the Institut de l’énergie Trottier at Polytechnique Montréal are offering six workshops focused on different topics: regulation, pricing, demand management, data, implementation support and resilience.

As for resilience, the report notes that technological innovations such as smart meters make networks much more flexible, but “with this flexibility, however, comes an increased risk of cyberattacks.”

Furthermore, extreme weather events caused by climate change increase the risk of physical damage to infrastructure.

“Therefore, the resilience of power grids remains essential, but climate change also affects demand, in particular by increasing space cooling or heating needs during extreme summer or winter conditions,” the report reads. .

Better use of data

Researchers at the Trottier Institute believe that governments and retailers should make it easier to access “data on current systems” to build pathways to carbon neutrality.

Better data collection and sharing could also improve energy productivity, planning, generation, storage, transmission and distribution of electricity.

Committing to energy efficiency, with cheaper modulated tariffs outside peak hours and regulation in peak winter, is also part of the solutions that will help achieve climate goals.

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