Quebec’s new energy strategy includes large-scale solar

The Quebec Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources (MENR) has unveiled the first action plan of the 2030 Energy Policy, which was launched in April 2016 and was then approved by the local National Assembly through the Act to implement the 2030 Energy Policy and to amend various legislative provisions in December of last year.

The action plan 2017-20120 is a package of 42 measures that is expected to help the Canadian province’s transition to clean energy over the next three years.

According to the MENR’s document, large-scale solar, which was an option that was never seriously considered by the local government to date, will now become part of the province’s energy mix. The MENR announced that a first pilot solar park will be built by Hydro-Quebec, the local state-owned utility that manages the region’s generation, transmission and distribution of power.

Although the MENR has not specified the size of the solar park, local newspaper LaPresse.ca reports that the plant may even reach 100 MW of capacity. The site for the project, however, has not yet been identified . The government’s intention is to test how power generated by large-scale solar facilities can be integrated in the regional power system. Furthermore, the MENR’s document reveals that the project could be launched by the end of this year.

The action plan 2017-20120 also includes the testing of how the PV technology for distributed generation can be made more efficient.  Hydro-Quebec is currently supporting the installation of PV and renewable energy power systems with a capacity of up to 50 kW through net metering. PV system owners can currently feed their surplus power into the Hydro-Québec grid in exchange for credits in kWh that will be applied to their electricity bill. The scheme is open to residential customers, farmers and small businesses.

The entire action plan is being managed by Transition énergétique Québec (TEQ), a new public body that is responsible for supporting the energy sector. The agency is also responsible for outlining the programs and measures to achieve the energy targets set by the government.

Under the 2030 Energy Policy, Quebec’s government is targeting a 40% reduction in the amount of petroleum products consumed, to eliminate the use of thermal coal, to increase by 25% the share of renewable energy in total energy production, and to increase bioenergy productionby 50% .

Compared to neighboring Ontario, which has installed more than 2 GW of PV capacity, Quebec has only a few hundreds of kilowatts of solar connected to its grid. Ontario’s PV capacity represents the vast majority of Canada’s cumulative grid-connected PV power.