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Water as a source of energy

Thousands of lakes and rivers covering some 180,000 square kilometres make up Québec’s freshwater system. In addition, Québec has huge reserves of groundwater beneath the earth’s surface. All this water serves a variety of purposes, including:

  • domestic and industrial use,
  • recreation and tourism,
  • and hydroelectric production.

Harnessing the Power of Water

In olden days, rivers and waterfalls were used for a variety of industrial activities, such as milling wheat or sawing wood. Since the late 19th century, Quebecers have harnessed rivers, streams, and waterfalls to generate electrical energy. Dams were built on lakes and rivers to create reservoirs and channel water through turbines. Powered by water, the turbines activate generators that produce electricity without emitting heat or harmful gases.

The natural evaporation/precipitation cycle makes water a renewable resource. In addition, hydro power emits about 30 times less greenhouse gas than modern natural gas power plants, and 60 times less than coal-fired plants, making it a clean energy source.