The CEO of Hydro-Québec, Sophie Brochu, is right when she indicates that there are other concrete and lower-cost solutions than the construction of new hydroelectric power stations to increase electricity production by 50 % by 2050. She is also right to point out that it makes no sense to continue selling electricity at 5 cents per kilowatt hour when it will cost 11 cents to produce in new projects.
Mme Brochu thus stands out for its rigor, an attitude which arouses admiration and hope among the population and analysts. His questions about industrial rates, currently very low, echo those repeatedly expressed by Fondation Rivières during public hearings. It is the same with wind power. Although not a green energy without environmental consequences, hydropower is valuable, renewable, and should not be wasted or misused by energy-intensive and polluting companies. The use of electricity must be relevant and provide a tangible gain for society by, in particular, eliminating the use of fossil fuels.
The scientific report Quebec GHG emissions reduction trajectories – Horizons 2030 and 2050 (2021 update) produced by the Dunsky firm assessed the Quebec energy context. It offers solutions meeting the energy objectives of carbon neutrality by 2050 without resorting to new hydroelectric plants.
This report, a reference for the Ministry of the Environment (MELCC) in the field of the fight against greenhouse gases, clearly indicates (p.15) that no construction of new hydroelectric power stations is required. here 2050 for carbon neutrality purposes.
The wind potential in Quebec, located less than 25 kilometers from transmission lines, is more than 100,000 MW. It would alone succeed in meeting the main needs estimated at 20,000 MW by 2050. This represents five times the future needs of Quebec. Important enough to consider Hydro-Québec starting this project itself. Added to this is the potential for energy saving, solar production and the use of new technologies.
It is a first for Fondation Rivières to publicly support Hydro-Québec in its governance, and we do so with conviction. Government interference, which sometimes orders a path to follow, has often produced very bad results. Let us remember the costly small power plant programs imposed on Hydro-Québec since the 1990s in order to favor private entrepreneurs or interest groups. This time, it is large industries that want to buy electricity at lower cost. Even Dollarama does not sell its products below cost.
By Alain Saladzius, president of Fondation Rivières
Photo: Martin Tremblay, La Presse