Hydro-Québec to develop its own wind farms with 10,000-MW target in view

Hydro-Québec is hoping scale economies will translate into a 20 per cent saving for Quebec ratepayers

Hydro-Québec will play a structuring role in partnership with First Nations and municipalities. EDF EN Canada photo.

This article was published by The Energy Mix on May 31, 2024.

Hydro-Québec is launching a massive development plan to install 10,000 megawatts of new wind capacity, and shifting its own role from power purchaser to developer to get the series of large projects done by 2035.

The mammoth public utility “will become the main contractor and shareholder of all wind projects over 1,000 megawatts,” CBC reports. “This will be done in close collaboration with First Nations and municipalities, who will also become shareholders in these projects.”

“The world has changed a lot, and our energy context has changed a lot,” CEO Michael Sabia told a news conference May 30, citing the rise of electric vehicles, battery storage, and the wider push to decarbonize. He said wind can deliver emission-free power “at a lower cost than hydroelectricity or nuclear power,” CBC writes.

“Today, wind power is an essential part of the diversification of our system,” Sabia declared. “Projects of scale are necessary to achieve economies of scale.”

The utility is hoping those scale economies will translate into a 20 per cent saving for Quebec ratepayers, CBC says.

Hydro announced last March that it will procure more than 1,500 MW of new capacity from private developers, and Sabia said those operators will still have a role in individual projects of up to 350 MW.

But it will take projects “of an unprecedented size and scale for Canada” to hit the province’s 10-gigawatt target in just a decade, CBC writes. “Hydro-Québec is focusing on vast, open spaces in the north of the province where such infrastructure will have minimal impact on communities,” and “each site will need several hundred wind turbines” to hit the overall target.

By comparison, CBC says, the 364-MW, 164-turbine Seigneurie de Beaupré wind farm, about 80 kilometres east of Quebec City, is currently one of Canada’s biggest wind farms.

Sabia stressed that local buy-in will be a must before new wind farms are approved. “Without community acceptance, there will be no project, period,” he said.

The announcement earned early praise from the Liberal opposition in the National Assembly and from Nature Québec Director General Alice-Anne Simard.

“Having Hydro-Québec as the prime contractor for large-scale wind development projects will enable planning and predictability that will be beneficial for achieving the objectives of its plan,” MNA Greg Kelley, the Liberals’ energy critic, said on social media.

Simard said the announcement showed the utility “finally getting on the right track to ensure coherent wind development in the region by limiting impacts on natural environments and communities as much as possible.”


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