May 8, 2006

Renewables form foundation of new Quebec energy strategy

Hydroelectric power, wind energy, energy efficiency, optimum use of petroleum and natural gas supplies and an updated legislative and regulatory framework are the cornerstones of the Quebec government's energy strategy for 2006-2015. Energy for Building the Quebec of Tomorrow, announced on May 4 by Premier Jean Charest, is intended to make the province a leader in sustainable development as well as to guarantee secure energy supplies as a foundation for economic prosperity.

One of the leading renewable energy initiatives outlined in the strategy is the development of a total of 4,000 megawatts (MW) of wind energy, 500 MW of which will be reserved for regions and First Nations. With 4,000 MW in place by 2015, wind power will represent as much as 10% of installed generating capacity, meeting 4 to 5% of the province's total electricity demand.

The energy strategy also calls for the implementation of wind-diesel hybrid systems for independent networks in remote communities. Additionally, Quebec will pursue research and development activities to increase the integration of wind energy, opening the possibility for even greater wind development.

The new provincial energy strategy is based on six main focal points: revival and acceleration of development of Quebec's hydroelectric resources; wind energy development; more efficient use of energy; energy innovation; consolidation and diversification of petroleum and natural gas supplies; and updating of the legislative and regulatory framework. For each of the various energy forms, the plan sets out specific measures.

Hydroelectric power development, which has slowed in recent years, will be revived and accelerated with the implementation of 4,500 MW in new projects over the next ten years. This represents an investment of $25 billion during that period - not counting the $4 billion to be invested to develop 888 MW through the Eastmain 1-A and Rupert/La Sarcelle River diversion project, currently undergoing environmental assessment.

The hydropower projects will be realized using a new "portfolio" approach, through which several projects will be brought to fruition at a time. This will be carried out in two phases: negotiations, studies and evaluations, including environmental assessments, conducted over the first five years; and engineering and construction activities, done over the next five years.

The government does not intend to promote small private hydropower facilities, i.e. 50 MW or less; these projects will be carried out by and for local communities.

In developing wind power, the government will give priority to following through on the two calls for proposals issued by Hydro Quebec in 2003 and 2005. These calls total 3,000 MW of power and represent $4.9 billion in investments.

The call for proposals for 500 MW of wind energy to be developed in First Nations communities will be supplemented by wind-diesel pilot projects to be carried out in these regions to reduce reliance on costly, polluting diesel-power electricity generating systems. The government expects the first of these, on Isles de la Madeleine, to be operational in the summer of 2007.

Measures for increasing efficient use of energy are forecast to yield annual savings of $2.5 billion for consumers and reductions of 9.4 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions by 2015. The government will, for the first time, bring forth a comprehensive energy efficiency plan addressing all sectors and all forms of energy.

To this end, Quebec's Energy Efficiency Agency will be assigned the mandate of determining cost-effective energy saving opportunities and setting an energy efficiency standard for the petroleum products sector (with the objective of saving the equivalent of two million tonnes of gasoline by 2015).

Renewable fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel will be favoured, with the objective of achieving an average of 5% ethanol in gasoline sales by 2012. The government will also give preference to biomass from forest, agricultural and municipal waste sources rather than corn crops. Although technologically more difficult, the strategy document says this option will be more beneficial to Quebec environmentally and economically.

Other elements of the strategy include:

*support for mass transit and improved energy efficiency in the trucking sector;

*proposed amendments to the province's regulation governing energy efficiency in new buildings, and incorporation of the changes into the Quebec building code;

*inclusion of energy efficiency projects in future calls for proposals by Hydro Quebec;

*a plan to improve the energy efficiency of government buildings and vehicle fleets, with a requirement that energy use in buildings be reduced by 10 to 14% by 2010 and fuel use by ministry and agency fleeets by reduced by 20% by 2010; and

*promotion of new energy technologies such as geothermal, passive solar and decentralized generating systems.

The strategy document may be viewed on-line at

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