Wind energy is a natural complement to hydroelectricity, since hydro reservoirs and power stations can, if certain conditions are respected, compensate for the intermittent nature of wind generation. In return, the use of wind turbines ensures that water levels remain high in reservoirs.
A report released in June 2005 assessed the potential that could be technically and economically connected to the Hydro-Québec grid at 3,600 MW, using current technologies and given the constraints of long-distance power transmission. With the same technology, the potential could rise to 4,000 MW by 2015. The study also pointed out that the capacity to integrate wind energy will increase as new hydroelectric facilities come on line.
The Government will promote the development of the existing potential for wind generation that can be connected to the Hydro-Québec grid, with an objective of 4,000 MW by 2015. Development in the wind energy sector will be based on the following priority actions:
- Complete the process launched by the two existing calls for bids and consolidate the structured development of wind energy.
- Launch a call for bids for the supply of a further 500 MW, reserved for regions and First Nations.
- Instruct Hydro-Québec to strengthen the complementary use of hydroelectricity and wind-generated electricity.
- Introduce combined wind/diesel generation for independent supply systems.
- Continue to invest in research and innovation.
A well-planned, orderly process
The Government has taken steps to structure the development of wind energy. Several measures have been implemented to ensure that wind farms are constructed in a way that protects the environment and responds to public concerns.
A high-growth industry
Wind generation technology is progressing rapidly. The installed capacity of a single wind turbine has increased four-fold over the last few years. As a result, electricity production costs have decreased significantly, and it is now possible to obtain the same amount of electricity using a much smaller area of land.
Wind energy development is thus a sound investment in terms of energy, the economy and the environment. The 4,000 MW objective is ambitious but achievable, given Québec’s potential and the advances made in production technology. The investments made will benefit the resource regions directly. The priority placed by the Government on wind energy is a concrete illustration of the move towards sustainable development.