The consequences of the 2014 Quebec elections, the end (in 2015) of the current energy policy, the effect of climate change and of the economic crisis on the social acceptance of projects, and the temporary surplus situation will all have some influence on the health of Quebec's renewable energy sector in the coming year.
The new government
At first blush, the election of a majority government targeting economic recovery is a good sign. The revival of the small hydro program and the will to use greenhouse gas emission reduction as a means to spur economic growth are two encouraging signals given to the sector. However, only time will tell whether the government is committed to renewable energy development.
New energy policies
The term of the last government energy strategy is almost upon us. Reexamining government policies in the sector will provide excellent opportunities to plan the future of the various renewable technologies currently active in Quebec. The considerable beneficial economic impact of renewable energy projects will likely be of interest to the council of ministers. However, pipeline inversion and potential oil reserve exploration could be perceived as good short-term economic stimulation measures, even if these go against the government's greenhouse gas emission reduction objectives.
Regular media coverage of more and more frequent extreme weather is forcing even the most conservative minds to favour a transition to renewable energy. Municipalities and First Nations peoples who wish to have a hand in their own development are turning to renewable energy to revitalize their communities. These new developments have a positive influence on sector growth.
The temporary surplus in electricity will probably keep ink flowing, despite the fact that Quebec currently does not have sufficient power capacity to boost the economy through industrial diversification. This situation recurs every decade. In the long term, this power deficit is only one of the issues that must be taken into account, as the Churchill Falls contract comes to an end, a 30TWh gap in Quebec's power supply will be created and that certainly must be considered as we plan resource use and management. Renewable energy development is of the utmost importance, both to fill energy needs and to ensure economic well-being.
This article is a condensed version of our 2013-2014 Annual Report, which is available here (in French only).