Why Is Quebec Vitality Minister Rejecting & Embracing Inexperienced Hydrogen In The Identical Week?


So, Quebec confused lots of people listening to inexperienced hydrogen this week, as Hydrogen Perception famous. They stated they don’t have sufficient electrical energy for it on the one hand, and on the opposite stated they have been going to run a hydrogen practice experiment and that hydrogen was mandatory for some transportation and heavy business. (Professional tip: Hydrogen Perception is the one hydrogen-specific information website price following. The remainder are beloved of fossil gasoline and hydrogen-for-energy lobbyists, and have the rigor of overcooked spaghetti.)

Pierre Fitzgibbon, Quebec’s vitality and financial system minister, advised one group on Tuesday that the province didn’t have sufficient electrical energy to do the 9 GW of proposed inexperienced hydrogen initiatives and rejected them, and that whereas they’d 23 GW of proposed electrical energy buy agreements, they may solely provide 10 GW of capability.

However then, on Thursday, he introduced that the province was going to fund a hydrogen practice take a look at for $3 million of the $6 million of the trial by Alstom, and that inexperienced hydrogen had an enormous position to play in future vitality calls for along with industrial calls for.

That definitely seems contradictory on the floor, even paradoxical. However a little bit of historical past is required to parse why this silliness is taking part in out the way in which that it’s.

First off, Quebec has an enormous hydro facility within the far north, the James Bay website with 16.5 GW of capability. It runs at a couple of 59% common capability issue, delivering 83 TWh of electrical energy yearly. Quebec additionally has 4 GW of wind vitality within the greatest wind farm in Canada that nobody in the remainder of the nation is aware of about, and is constructing GWs extra. Decrease capability elements, however St. Lawrence headland winds, so fairly good. After which there’s the newly commissioned Muskrat Falls dam bringing one other 3 GW of capability into the combination, though a bunch of that’s bought within the Maritimes. There are one other 16 GW of smaller hydro initiatives across the place as effectively.

However that’s solely about 40 GW of nameplate capability between the facility technology amenities within the province. A substantial amount of that’s already getting used, in fact. 23 GW is effectively over half of the whole technology capability for the undertaking, together with Muskrat Falls. Not having surplus electrical energy equaling nearly 60% of capability is unsurprising.

Having 10 GW of capability continues to be superb, and indicative of among the bizarre vitality historical past within the area. Quebec is already delivering 1.2 GW of capability to NY, 2.7 MW to Ontario and about 2 GW New England. It’s been making an attempt to promote extra of its extra, very low cost, very low carbon electrical energy to the big inhabitants facilities to the west and south for many years, with solely restricted success.

In Ontario’s case, vitality coverage is caught in a distant previous when jurisdictional electrical energy autonomy nonetheless made sense. They constructed an enormous set of nuclear reactors within the Nineteen Seventies and Nineteen Eighties primarily based partly on that even then archaic notion, in addition to the existence of the Chalk River nuclear analysis facility, Atomic Vitality Canada’s lobbying for CANDU reactors, and naturally the large US, nuclear-oriented army presence wanting northward over the pole for Soviet bombers. Now they’ve 55% to 60% nuclear provide yearly, which implies huge surplus baseload situations requiring paying neighboring jurisdictions to take electrical energy and increasing a pumped hydro facility at Niagra Falls. (The same old reminder: nearly all grid storage constructed to this point was constructed to present principally nuclear vegetation one thing to do at evening and again them up throughout the day.)

The $20 billion in nuclear debt nonetheless on Ontario’s books within the mid-2010s (and nonetheless about the identical right now) represented 50% of the particular line gadgets on its residents’ electrical energy payments that drove charges as much as about common for North America, and which grew to become an exploitable political wedge for the populist Doug Ford and provincial Conservatives, together with inanities like guarantees of a buck a beer which turned out about as effectively.

One of many administration’s first acts was slicing up the contracts for 758 renewables amenities and initiatives within the province and legislating lack of authorized recourse, one thing which happy the Conservatives’ base however was an absurd selection within the twenty first Century, to not point out a deeply hypocritical selection for a purportedly business-friendly authorities. Naturally, the result’s that Ontario goes to be burning vastly extra pure gasoline and its emissions per MWh are going to extend considerably. Not a sensible choice.

And Ontario additionally rejected shopping for any extra electrical energy from Quebec as a result of causes. Sure, refusing cheap, dependable, low-carbon electrical energy from Quebec is par for the course for the provinces’ Conservative ideologues. As a substitute, they’re absurdly selecting to attempt to construct a small modular nuclear reactor on one in every of their present nuclear technology amenities. Sure, nothing like a primary of a sort, small resolution that gained’t be obtainable for no less than a decade and sure will price 3 times projections to resolve this decade’s issues attributable to final decade’s stupidity. In meantime, they’ll burn extra pure gasoline.

The 2000s, when vitality coverage in Ontario was rational and non-ideological, once they selected to actively shut down coal technology and lean into renewables whereas sustaining their low-carbon nuclear benefit, are a fading reminiscence. I strive to not be nostalgic for these days, or let the present administration’s insurance policies increase my blood stress an excessive amount of.

To be completely truthful, the Ford administration is lastly beginning to open up the potential for extra renewables and grid storage. They nonetheless have the chance to do the fallacious factor, and in contrast to Churchill’s remark about America, they hardly ever get round to doing the proper factor after they’ve tried the whole lot else. Oh, and each renewable developer on the earth is leery of the province due to these 758 ripped up contracts. I do want the Greens, NDP, and Liberals in Ontario would really get a strategic, cold-blooded, warm-appearing strategist who might power them right into a unified occasion, or no less than unite the NDP and Liberals.

In the meantime the US is affected by the recurrent downside of NIMBYism. At current, the US has devolved the flexibility to say no to essentially required transformational infrastructure all the way down to the county and infrequently to the person. Because of this, the brand new 1.25-1.4 GW HVDC connector down from Quebec has been blocked. My contacts inform me it isn’t totally lifeless, however it’s on life help and the defibrillation unit is on its method.

So Quebec’s surplus 10 GW of capability isn’t being eaten up by neighboring jurisdictions that ought to be hammering on the border, demanding a few of these clear, low cost electrons.

After all, Quebec is electrifying extra quickly than the remainder of Canada (outdoors of the town of Vancouver no less than). Native demand is excessive and growing. With the bottom electrical energy charges within the nation, it’s unsurprising {that a} a lot higher proportion of Quebec households heated with electrons slightly than gasoline or oil than in different provinces, 79% in comparison with neighboring Ontario’s 9% or Alberta’s sub-6% in 2016. Or that they’re the most important purchaser of warmth pumps outdoors of way more populous Ontario, and the chief by ratio to inhabitants.

The province is funding the acquisition of 1,200 electrical transit buses and 120 electrical faculty buses, very credible numbers when the most important international locations that aren’t China are nonetheless beneath 1,000 electrical buses in complete. Quebec can be subsidizing electrical automobile purchases, and nearly half of 2021 Canadian EV purchases have been within the province.

Quebec will get electrification, so what’s up with the hydrogen practice?

The inexperienced hydrogen factor is a present Canadian oddity. Don’t overlook that 5% of Canada’s GDP is oil and gasoline, and Ballard is a BC firm, so hydrogen for vitality hype is robust within the nation. (Yeah, I’ve some stilted conversations domestically right here in Vancouver).

Quebec is a principally politically savvy entity, however tends to be a bit extra rational about vitality coverage in the long term. For instance, they’re now shifting to get rid of the 270 MW allocation for crypto mining. Quebec can be the house of each CN Rail and By way of Rail (each former purchasers of mine). Massive rail corporations are incessantly caught in a vitality = gasoline paradigm, and have issues climbing out of it. CN Rail particularly is politically highly effective.

After which there’s Bombardier, which made rail locomotives and automobiles till the company welfare recipient divested its Germany-based division to Alstom. Yup, that Alstom. The one offering the H2 practice for a couple of weeks or months. This stays a state of affairs the place effectively linked ex-Bombardier sorts are pushing the federal government and Company Quebec to do irrational issues consequently.

In any case, the federal and provincial governmental bail outs of Bombardier, over $4 billion since 1966, ended so effectively, with the Bombardier C Sequence narrow-bodied passenger jet being handed over to Airbus for cents on the greenback, and Bombardier’s rail division being bought to Alstom beneath equally dangerous phrases for the Canadian residents who saved the terribly managed agency afloat for many years. (I used to be additionally engaged on a significant proposal for Bombardier a couple of years in the past, and it was clear from the within that they have been headed for collapse.)

So the $3 million is legacy Bombardier sorts managing to scrape a couple of extra provincial {dollars} into their pockets. The fact is that Quebec’s clear electrical energy is totally subscribed, lastly, and can nearly solely be used for helpful, productive, local weather change lowering issues. And that doesn’t embrace losing any on inexperienced hydrogen for vitality. After they construct electrolyzers, one assumes the EU’s pricey departed additionality necessities can be firmly in place in Quebec.

In different phrases, the refusal of 9 GW of inexperienced hydrogen electrolyzer proposals makes full sense, with hydrogen producers having to pony up for brand spanking new renewable technology, and the hydrogen practice is simply the same old nonsense, however with solely tens of millions as an alternative of billions wasted on company welfare.


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