The Quebec Minister of Energy, Pierre Fitzgibbon, is starting a major consultation this week on Quebec’s energy future. This consultation comes at the right time to determine the next steps for energy development in Quebec, at a time when the whole world is shaken by the energy crisis in Europe caused by the war in Ukraine and when the debate on the climate and emissions intensifies all over the globe.
The consultation begins just days after Mr. Fitzgibbon admitted in parliamentary committee during the appropriations study that more than 17,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity (about 35% of the existing capacity) would have to be found to replace the natural gas consumed each year in Quebec by households and businesses – electricity that Hydro-Québec absolutely does not have, which is already, according to its most recent strategic plan, looking for more than 100 terawatt hours (TWh ) to meet the needs that had already been determined, i.e. an increase of more than 50% of its current production.
Why not Quebec natural gas? The most recent report “The State of Energy in Quebec” published by the Chair of Energy Management at HEC Montreal reminds us that Quebec’s natural gas consumption continues to grow and that the gas consumed has a value of 2 billion dollars a year – a resource that Quebec imports 100%. Even as the energy transition begins, this transfer of wealth from Quebec abroad will continue at the same level for another 20 to 30 years.
The natural gas present in Quebec soil is located in rock formations similar to that from which the gas imported by Quebec comes, and the technology to extract it has been proven and used without problems for more than 20 years now. In addition to replacing imports here in Quebec, this gas is abundant enough to become a source of supply for our allies, particularly in Europe, with the double advantage of helping them reduce their dependence on Russian gas and helping to reduce their own emissions since it would allow them to replace more polluting coal-fired power stations.
The development of natural gas would thus have the effect of enriching Quebec and Quebecers, freeing us from our dependence on energy imported from outside Quebec, allowing Quebec to play a leading role in the global energy transition. and, at the end of this transition, to use Quebec gas to become a world leader in the production of new energy sources such as hydrogen or renewable natural gas, as well as carbon sequestration.
Given the current context, there is no doubt that natural gas as a transition energy must at least be part of the discussion regarding the reflections undertaken on the energy future of Quebec. In order to hold a real social debate, several opinions must be taken into account and all ideas and possibilities must be put on the table.