An article from March 2022 cited a Hydro Quebec strategic plan they had just released and it forecast they would need 100 TWh (terawatt hours) annually of additional energy in order to meet Quebec’s net-zero emissions target by 2050.
To put context on that 100 TWh; it currently represents about 50% of generation Quebec Hydro annually distributes to Quebec ratepayers and grid connected export markets! If one does the math the annual generation of 100 TWh would require about 11,500 MW of new generation (baseload) capacity running at 100% and that is, coincidentally, more than double the capacity of Churchill Falls (5,428 MW) which is owned by Newfoundland & Labrador (N/L). The existing contract between the two provinces for the power generated at Churchill Falls expires in 2041 and currently costs Hydro Quebec a very low $2.00 per MWh or $2 million per TWh. The $113 million Hydro Quebec paid N/L in 2021 suggests Churchill Falls supplied them with 56.5 TWh hours or about 25% of what Hydro Quebec distributed in 2021 and around 30% of Quebec ratepayers total demand!
We should guess N/L will be looking for much higher rates for any future contracts come 2041 or instead will run transmission lines to Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and/or to New England to achieve a much better return and perhaps help pay those cost overruns for the Muskrat Falls project. The foregoing would raise Quebec’s needs to over 150 TWh by 2050 or at the very least drive up their energy costs!
Hydro Quebec’s 2021 annual report indicated they sold 210.8 TWh of which 35.6 TWh (63% of Churchill Falls generation) were exported to New England, New York, Ontario and New Brunswick.
In respect to the Ontario/Quebec relationship; Ontario will try to supply power to Quebec in the winter (Quebec’s peak demand period) whereas Quebec will try to supply Ontario in the Summer which is generally when peak demand occurs. The agreement between Ontario and Quebec is referenced as the “Seasonal Capacity Sharing Agreement.“ As an example, Ontario, using natural gas generation, recently supplied Quebec with power during the cold snap. We should wonder how importing generation from natural gas plants will help Quebec meet its “net-zero” target or Ontario’s by generating fossil fuel power to supply Quebec?
Hydro Quebec issued a press release in November 2022 forecasting by 2032 they will require an additional 25 TWh principally to support the transition to electrification for transportation, building conversion, green hydrogen production, battery production, etc. etc. The press release suggests: “The anticipated growth takes into account significant energy efficiency efforts that will make it possible to curtail 8.9 TWh by 2032. Hydro-Québec programs such as the Efficient Heat Pump Program for residential customers and the Efficient Solutions Program for business customers will help optimize electricity use.“ They will also seek a “demand response” of 3,000 MW during the coldest winter days from those labeled as “various customer segments”. The release also indicated they have put out a call for tenders including; “one for 300 MW of wind power and the other for 480 MW of renewable energy—are already underway“, and “Two more, for 1,000 MW of wind power and 1,300 MW of renewable energy, respectively, will be launched in the next few months, and others will follow in the coming years to meet the needs“.
We should find it odd Hydro Quebec would believe 1,300 MW of wind and 1,780 MW of renewables (solar?) will be sufficient to provide them with the 25 TWh they forecast needing by 2032 due to their intermittency and unreliable nature but perhaps they are really counting on the 3,000 MW of “demand response” to keep the lights on and households warm during cold winter days. We should also wonder where the other 75 TWh they will need by 2050, will come from?
They shouldn’t count on Ontario being able to supply them as the Ford led government here in Ontario is on the path to also achieve the same “net-zero” target our Energy Minister, Todd Smith, asked IESO to achieve via his October 7, 2021, letter to them. While he has subsequently backtracked somewhat on the foregoing in his October 6, 2022, directive it nevertheless may detract from attracting new generation as the following sentence from his directive implies: “New build gas facilities will be required to submit emissions abatement plans to IESO as part of their future contractual obligations, including considerations for operating in special circumstances such as emergency events, if applicable.“
Ontarians and Quebecers should wonder; in the future, will those emergency events include us sending our natural gas generation to help them keep the lights on and their households warm during winter cold snaps in Quebec and will they be able to supply Ontario with power on those very warm summer days when our peak demands occur?
No doubt by the time the foregoing potential problems become a regular occurrence our current group of politicians will have retired from politics and be living on nice taxpayer funded pensions so will not care about the consequences of their failed policies.
We voters should find a way to make elected politicians responsible for their ineptitude but perhaps that is far too much to hope for, just as “net-zero” is simply “wishful thinking” if we want reliable and competitive power prices!