Hydro-Quebec (HQ) will relaunch the wind energy sector in 2021. It will have to meet significant energy needs within a few years due to the electrification of transport and buildings, has learned The newspaper.
After swimming in the surpluses, the crown corporation will be dry from 2027, and must already plan to add energy sources, according to documents consulted by our Parliamentary Office.
The tide has turned for two years. In November 2018, Premier François Legault announced to the Innu chiefs that the Apuiat wind farm project, launched by the Couillard government, was being put on hold for as long as Hydro-Québec was in excess of energy.
“Hydro-Quebec forecasts surpluses for the next 20 years,” he said at the time. He put the brakes on any new project, and wanted to focus on conquering export markets.
The situation has changed: negotiations are already underway to put Apuiat back on track, the state-owned company confirmed.
For his part, the project’s spokesperson, Serge Ashini Goupil, is delighted that the government recognizes “the economic value of Apuiat, but also its symbolic value in the nation-to-nation relationship between Quebec and the nine communities of the Innu Nation ”.
Apuiat and many others
But Apuiat and its 200 MWh are only the beginning of Hydro-Québec’s shopping. The state-owned company will increase Quebec’s wind power capacity by more than 25% in the coming years and ultimately wants to obtain 3 TWh of energy.
Other types of producers, such as solar, will be able to try their luck, but HQ believes that it is this sector which now offers the best prices.
“We will soon be in the process of obtaining new supplies. […] We are going to relaunch wind power tenders, ”confirms Marc-Antoine Pouliet, head of public affairs for the government corporation, in an interview with our parliamentary office.
Hydro-Quebec CEO Sophie Brochu evaded the question during an interview tour earlier this week following the presentation of the Legault government’s Green Economy Plan. On 98.5 FM, she said that Quebec was not ripe for the construction of hydroelectric plants.
At Radio-Canada, she preferred to talk about energy efficiency and partnership with the gas monopoly Énergir, avoiding the issue of new supplies.
But she still mentioned “the incorporation of complementary measures such as wind and solar” in the state company, and stressed that the low prices of the wind sector were attractive for HQ.
Documents consulted by The newspaper do not deceive: by 2027, Hydro-Québec forecasts that its surpluses will have disappeared.
“New long-term supplies will be required to meet energy and power needs from the end of 2026,” reads a file submitted to the Régie de l’énergie.
And in 2029, the state-owned company will have to import 5 TWh on the short-term markets, and procure 3.3 TWh in long-term supply, probably wind power. This amount of energy (8.3 TWh) is equivalent to the Romaine complex.
HQ explains that the situation has changed because of the Plan for a Green Economy, which provides for the electrification of transport (cars, buses, trucks, tram) and the electrification of heating buildings. The development of markets for agricultural greenhouses and data centers will also be felt.
The needs during peak periods, mainly winter in cold weather, will be substantial.
But the crown corporation believes that it is more profitable to import energy for a few days a year than to sign long-term contracts.
Still, this will have a price for the consumer. We can read in a government document that the Plan for a green economy “foresees the production of more energy to meet the increase in demand” and that this new production “will generate costs higher than what currently prevails”.
Additional energy required by Hydro-Québec in TWh
Buying in short-term markets