Renewable energies | “Quebec cannot rest on its laurels”

Energy transition, decarbonization, green and renewable energies… concepts which occupy a growing place in the public space and which have been the subject of massive investments in 2023. If Quebec can, to a certain extent, be perceived as a example, it remains that it must maintain the pace to achieve its ambitious objectives related to the transition. Overview.

This is considerable: Quebec and Canada are aiming for carbon neutrality in 2050, even though their energy needs are enormous. Thus, the experts consulted by The Press agree to affirm one thing: it will take a significant – and above all collective – effort to get there.

“Quebec is a special case, because it is ahead of other jurisdictions in North America,” emphasizes from the outset Mark Purdon, professor in the department of strategy, social and environmental responsibility at the University of Quebec in Montreal. (UQAM).

We have already made the transition with hydroelectric dams in the 1970s and 1980s. We are in a unique situation. But Quebec cannot rest on its laurels: it must continue with its exports and attract industries.

Mark Purdon, professor in the department of strategy, social and environmental responsibility at UQAM

To do this, several options are available to the province. The Quebec Association for Renewable Energy Production (AQPER) works mainly on two sectors: the electrical sector (hydro, wind, solar), then the molecular sector (bioenergy, biomass, biofuels).

Its goal: to develop respectively 200 terawatt hours and 80 terawatt hours of energy within these two sectors by 2050, a target as capital as it is ambitious.

“In our energy mix, there are still 50% of resources that are of fossil origin,” explains Luis Calzado, president and CEO of AQPER. This is why we need a transition. There is no magic solution, you have to use all channels. »


Luis Calzado, President and CEO of the Quebec Renewable Energy Production Association

Currently, AQPER collaborates in particular with Kruger Énergie, Boralex, Waga Énergie, Innoltek and Greenfield Global on projects where we focus on “developing renewables that will connect to the network”.

In Quebec, several other organizations are also leading the fight for energy transition. This is particularly the case of the Eastern Energy Alliance, whose two new projects totaling nearly 500 megawatts and $1.5 billion in investments were approved by Hydro-Québec at the end of January.

It is by focusing on “social acceptability” and “maximum economic benefits” that the Alliance manages to implement its wind or solar projects across 209 communities and territories, including 16 MRCs in the east of the province, reports its president Michel Lagacé, in an interview.

If we want to promote the energy transition, which is obligatory if we want to leave anything other than an environmental disaster for future generations, we have no right to fail.

Michel Lagacé, president of the Eastern Energy Alliance

Strengths and weaknesses

“There is a sensitivity among Quebecers for climate issues, they have more confidence in science than in other jurisdictions in North America. And there is a habit that the state must play a role in political governance, it is more accepted,” explains Mark Purdon.

“On the other hand, I find that the public debate has difficulty grasping the magnitude of the changes to be undertaken,” he adds.

It is uncertain whether the province can provide enough heat pumps and electric vehicles to meet the 2030 targets, for example. And studies suggest that the price of carbon on the market, currently $53 per tonne, will have to rise to $300 per tonne by 2030 – something that may seem difficult to think or achievable.

So, how should we deal with this complex issue of energy transition as a society? “A project does not develop overnight. We need the collaboration of different parties, answers Luis Calzado. For us, social acceptability is essential. »

“There are currently the beginnings of what could be achieved for solar power in the coming years,” adds Michel Lagacé. This energy is experiencing what wind power has experienced, we must now improve its competitiveness. »

According to Mark Purdon, the transition to green and renewable energies can be achieved provided that we focus on building cities more densely to avoid cars, on coalitions between the private sector and civil society, but also on cooperation. at the International scale.

Systems of this nature are already in place in Brazil, India, China and Indonesia. Quebec, in this spirit, can continue to explore partnership opportunities with California or the State of Washington for its carbon market.

“There is a trend of economic nationalism that is noticeable around the world. If we continue on this path, everyone will see that it is too difficult to do this completely alone at home,” he concludes.


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