In Québec, almost 100% of the energy produced comes from renewable energy1. This has been made possible by the particular geography of the province, but also thanks to strong political choices dating back to the 1960s. The thousands of rivers, the huge boreal forests and the great wind capacity found in Québec have largely contributed to the ecological production of its energy. We look back at the history of renewable energy up to the present day.
Third and final part of our series: construction projects relaunch in the 2000s, sustainable development and inclusion at the heart of Québec’s energy strategies.
The year 2000 heralds a wind of renewal in Québec. The province is facing a series of economic, environmental and social challenges. The growing need for energy is particularly confronted with environmental issues and presses the public authorities to consider other solutions and adapt the energy production model. Several strategies are being implemented in order to allow Québec to have a more sustainable and inclusive development policy with the Aboriginal communities.
“Peace Among Braves”
On February 7, the Québec government and the Grand Council of the Crees signed a historic agreement that marked the beginning of a new era of mutual respect and cooperation. The agreement “Peace Among Braves”, also paved the way for the construction of Eastmain-1 and Eastmain-1-A (renamed Bernard-Landry after the death of the former premier).
The agreement specifies the provisions of the James Bay and Northern Québec Agreement and provides for financial compensation of up to CAD 4.5 billion over 50 years to the Cree Nation and special regimes for wildlife and forest management. In return, the Crees accept the relaunch of construction projects on the territory covered by the James Bay and Northern Québec Agreement. These projects are directly in line with the Québec government’s 2006-2015 energy strategy.
The Government Sustainable Development Strategy 2006-2015 for Québec
In May 2006, the government of Québec unveiled the Government Sustainable Development Strategy 2006-2015. It has five main components: hydroelectricity, wind energy, energy efficiency, new energy technologies and hydrocarbons.
It provides for an investment of CAD 25 billion in the production of 4500 additional megawatts of hydroelectricity. Québec also wants to increase the contribution of wind power to 4000 megawatts, of which 500 megawatts will be allocated to the regions and Aboriginal communities.
The Québec Energy Strategy 2006-2015 is based upon 6 objectives
- Strengthen the security of Québec’s energy supply
- Make greater use of energy as a lever for economic development
- Give a greater place to local and regional communities and Aboriginal nations in energy development
- Use energy more efficiently
- Become a leader in sustainable development
- Set an electricity price that is in its best interests and that is consistent with good resource management
The Government Sustainable Development Strategy 2015-2020 for Québec
In November 2015, the Government of Québec tabled the Government Sustainable Development Strategy 2015-2020. This second government strategy and the resulting action plans demonstrate the government’s commitment to remain at the forefront of the fight against climate change and to promote innovation and the development of a greener economy in Québec, particularly in government activities.
It is based on seven core issues and sets out eight directions:
- Strengthening sustainable development governance in public administration;
- Developing a prosperous economy in a sustainable, green and responsible manner;
- Managing natural resources in a responsible manner that respects biodiversity;
- Promote social inclusion and reduce social and economic inequalities;
- Improve the health of the population through prevention;
- Ensuring sustainable land use and supporting dynamic communities;
- Supporting sustainable mobility;
- Promote the production and use of renewable energy and energy efficiency to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Québec’s 2030 Energy Policy
In response to the Paris Conference (COP21), the Québec government committed, in April 2016, to the energy transition. Through its new Energy Policy 2016-2030, Québec has set ambitious targets for 2030 to reduce its GHG emissions by 37.5% compared to their 1990 level, following five different axes:
- Enhance energy efficiency by 15%
- Reduce the volume of petroleum products consumed by 40 %
- Eliminate the use of thermal coal
- Increase overall renewable energy output by 25%
- Increase bioenergy production by 50%
The vision is to make Québec by the year 2030 a North American leader in the realms of renewable energy and energy efficiency and thus build a new, strong, low-carbon economy.
Thus, under the supervision of the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, Québec Energy Transition (TEQ) is created, an organization whose mission will be to stimulate and promote the transition, innovation and energy efficiency and to ensure integrated governance. As such, it is entrusted with the following mandates:
- Ensure development based on clean technologies
- Steering the transition of transportation and reducing dependence on hydrocarbons
- Stimulate the decarbonization of transportation and a strategy to reduce GHG emissions
The role of green hydrogen in the energy transition
Thanks to its vision and determination in the development of its energy production facilities, Québec is privileged to be among the places in the world where it is possible to produce green hydrogen (made from renewable energy sources).
Also, the potential of green hydrogen in the energy transition is twofold.
First, it meets several needs: heat production, electricity production, synthetic fuel production, chemical production, electrical storage, steel industry, etc.
Secondly, it offers considerable potential for decarbonizing the transportation sector, particularly heavy and/or intensive transportation. With the development of fuel cells and the recent enthusiasm of public actors for the development of this sector, it is a promising prospect for the production and use of green hydrogen in this sector.
Indeed, applications to different modes of mobility offer several advantages, including: fast recharging, a range of several hundred kilometres (similar to internal combustion engine uses).
TEQ supports the exploration of this new sector in the road transportation roadmap of the Québec Energy Transition, Innovation and Efficiency Master Plan.
This has resulted in two main projects: a test bench in the transportation sector and a study on the Technico-economic potential of the development of the hydrogen industry in Québec and its potential for the energy transition.
- État de l’énergie au Québec. Chaire de gestion du secteur de l’énergie, HEC Montréal. 2021.
- Histoire de l’électricité au Québec. Wikipedia.
- History of Electricity in Québec. Timeline. Hydro-Québec.
- Étude sur le potentiel technico-économique du développement de la filière de l’hydrogène au Québec et son potentiel pour la transition énergétique – Sommaire
- Government Sustainable Development Strategy 2008-2013
- Sustainable Development. Quebec.ca
- Québec’s 2030 Energy policy