The Montreal Economic Institute has released a report that presents the province’s energy profile, quantifies its hydroelectric potential, and identifies natural gas as a realistic solution for meeting the province’s future energy needs.

Currently, fossil fuels account for the majority (56 per cent) of Quebec’s energy consumption, while electricity represents 36 per cent. “Quebecers sometimes seem to believe that electricity is king in Quebec, but the numbers clearly indicate the opposite,” said Jean Michaud, engineer and co-author of the research paper.

Based to the report findings, in principle, Hydro-Québec’s production capacity is sufficient for the electrification of transportation in periods of low energy demand, but it would be unthinkable during peak periods. “Quebec is particular in that it uses electricity rather than natural gas for heating. The mathematical reality is that much too high a percentage of Hydro-Québec’s capacity is already in use during peak periods for people to be able to charge their cars at the same time,” added Michaud.

According to the authors, the 5.4 million electric personal vehicles that would hypothetically be circulating on Quebec roads would require around 37,350 MW just to recharge each day, or almost as much as the province’s peak demand in winter.

“Alternatives like solar or geothermal power are often proposed. As things currently stand, however, these energy sources are not efficient, reliable, or affordable enough,” said Germain Belzile, senior fellow at the MEI and co-author of the publication.

“Quebec’s recoverable natural gas reserves would be able to meet our needs for at least the next 40 years, and we would only need a limited number of new gas pipelines. The current price of natural gas makes the development of this resource unattractive for companies, yet this remains an entirely realistic and desirable alternative for the future,” concluded Belzile.

The Research Paper entitled Energy in Quebec: What Role for Natural Gas in the Context of Electrification? was prepared by Jean Michaud, engineer, with the collaboration of Germain Belzile, senior fellow at the MEI. This publication is available on MEI’s website.

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