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Montréal, October 26, 2016

Press Release

Powerful facts on clean energy

It is generally accepted that hydropower is a clean source of energy. A recent review of papers on reservoir emissions published by the Bioscience journal sought to provide an assessment of the state of the science worldwide in the field of greenhouse gas emissions and in doing so it draws general conclusions and points to a need for additional research. However, the general conclusions of this literature review cannot be extrapolated and applied to hydropower developed in Québec. 

Extensive studies on Québec reservoirs show methane is less than 1% of all emissions

All natural aquatic areas emit greenhouse gases and Hydro-Québec’s northern reservoirs are no exception: they emit small quantities of GHGs. A large-scale scientific study was carried out in collaboration with 80 experts from Université du Québec à Montréal, McGill University and Environnement Illimité Inc.from 2003 to 2009 to quantify emissions from the Eastmain reservoir, before and after impoundment. One of the main findings of that study is that methane emissions are simply not an issue for Québec reservoirs. They represent less than 1% of total GHG emissions, principally because the waters of Québec’s large water bodies are cold and well-oxygenated are therefore are not conducive to the formation of this gas.

The Bioscience article states that “more productive, nutrient-rich reservoirs tend to emit more CH4 than their less productive, nutrient-poor counterparts.” Québec’s boreal regions are indeed nutrient-poor, with low quantities of decomposable material and a slow plant growth cycle. Furthermore, the absence of agriculture in these northern latitudes means that there is little in the way of new material flowing into existing reservoirs that could subsequently decompose and give rise to emissions.

Hydropower: lowest greenhouse gas emissions of all generation methods

The International Life Cycle Chair of the CIRAIG, (http://www.ciraig.org/en/) has published a life cycle analysis comparing different power generation options and the electricity mixes of various Canadian provinces, US States and other countries. The major findings of that life cycle analysis are that emissions from Québec hydropower are: 

  • Similar to those from wind power or nuclear power
  • Five times lower than emissions from solar photovoltaic energy
  • 50 times lower than a gas-fired thermal plant
  • 70 times lower than a coal-fired thermal plant.

Québec hydropower exports mean lower emissions in neighbouring markets

Hydro-Québec’s exports displace fossil fuel power generation in markets outside Québec, thereby extending the benefits of its clean energy in regions such as New York and New England. Each year, the company’s exports avoid millions of metric tons of GHG emissions in its markets, the equivalent of the annual emissions of more than 1 million cars.

The legislation recently passed in Massachusetts all recognize the clean character of hydropower and its key role in moving towards a lower carbon future.

 

Contact: 

Gary Sutherland, 514-289-4418
sutherland.gary@hydro.qc.ca

Hydro-Québec’s exports displace fossil fuel power generation in markets outside Québec, thereby extending the benefits of its clean energy in regions such as New York and New England. Each year, the company’s exports avoid millions of metric tons of GHG emissions in its markets, the equivalent of the annual emissions of more than 1 million cars.

The legislation recently passed in Massachusetts all recognize the clean character of hydropower and its key role in moving towards a lower carbon future.

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