Québec’s wind generation potential is enormous, partly because of the size of its territory. Wind energy will allow Québec to generate considerable quantities of electricity, within a relatively short time frame, and at a competitive price. It is a renewable energy source that produces a limited quantity of greenhouse gas emissions.
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 Québec Government published the 2030 Energy Policy in 2016. Since Québec has some energy leeway, the Government proposed an approach designed to support Québec firms and help them take advantage of new markets arising from the increase in world demand for wind energy. This context forms the backdrop to the vision for wind energy development put forward by the Québec Government, which hopes that wind parks built in Québec can be used by companies to fulfill business opportunities and export electricity to North American markets. The Government’s aim is to take advantage of the wind energy sector while limiting its impacts on the electricity prices paid by Québec consumers.
A well-planned, orderly process
The Government has taken steps to structure the development of wind energy. Among other things, the Government has published its land use planning guidelines and, more recently, the Ministère de l’Énergie et des Ressources naturelles has published its guidelines in the area of social acceptability, to foster sharing of project benefits with host communities and introduce predictable processes for public participation at every stage of a project. As a result, several elements are now in place to ensure that wind farms are implemented with due respect for the environment and citizens’ concerns.
A high-growth industry
The technologies used to generate energy from wind have developed quickly, especially in the area of turbine power. When the sector was first developed in Québec, most turbines had an output capacity of 750 kW. Now, however, current projects provide for the use of turbines with an output capacity in excess of 3 MW.
Rapid growth of the wind energy sector throughout the world has helped create a dynamic business context in which Québec has managed to position itself advantageously. The development of this sector is therefore a good decision, from an energy, economic and environmental standpoint. Investments in the sector directly benefit the resource regions.