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Do we have enough hydroelectricity to electrify transportation?

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Hydropower is part of our identity in Quebec. We're very proud of our renewable energy production.

However, almost half of the energy consumed in Quebec is still from fossil fuels (gas and oil). This trend should be addressed over the next few years through the government's electrification plans (mainly for transportation), and these long-awaited measures should enable us to reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. But as the era of surpluses at Hydro-Québec comes to a close, questions arise about our ability to generate enough electricity.

Do we have enough hydroelectricity to electrify our transportation system?

The answer could be yes, but big societal decisions will have to be made in order to get there.

Because the demand for electricity is indeed set to explode, notably due to:

  • the arrival of energy-intensive industries;

  • overconsumption and population growth (bigger vehicles, bigger homes…);

  • the need to electrify all sectors of society to respond to the climate crisis (buildings, industrial processes, etc.).

Is Quebec ready to meet all of these anticipated needs? No. That's why Équiterre is working hard to encourage the provincial government to adopt a clear and structured vision, and to be courageous in its energy decisions in the face of our new climate reality.

Where to start?

If the right measures are put in place, the government can relieve some pressure on the energy system and successfully decarbonize our economy without causing further harm to our environment and our society.

Two solutions are essential:

1. Reducing consumption: The government must implement measures to improve energy efficiency and reduce energy consumption. Significant improvements are possible. For example:

  • Reducing the size and the number of vehicles on our roads and making public and active transport more accessible;

  • Using more efficient heating systems (e.g. heat pumps);

  • Encouraging the circular and local economy (reducing energy-intensive production and travel).

What measures can be put in place towards energy sobriety and efficiency?

Have a look at our recommendations

2. Coherent development: The government must establish a clear, transparent and coherent strategy to guide its decisions when deciding which industries can set up shop here. It must also consider energy efficiency and energy sobriety as strategic sectors to be developed.

What are we waiting for to electrify our economy?

A public consultation on the development of renewable energy in Quebec ended a few weeks ago. The government and Hydro-Québec are currently evaluating solutions for a successful electrification of our economy.

At this point, the government seems to be using the energy transition as a pretext to continue along the same lines of economic development, as has been done in the past. However, the climate crisis necessitates that we review our development model. With limited resources, we have to make choices, and we want the government to be courageous in its decision-making.

For our energy future, Équiterre will continue to pressure the government towards a more structured and desirable vision than what the government has been alluding to recently.