Green hydrogen from here to Quebec

The Quebec government is investing $1.2 billion over five years in its first green hydrogen and bioenergy strategy, with the main goal of using it to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

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“We are leaving with a desire to reach our reduction targets and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050,” Energy and Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Julian said in an interview.

Quebec estimates that it will be able to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an additional four megatons by 2030, representing 13% of the total effort.

These megatons are included in 51% of the means already identified by the Ministry of Environment in its latest update. The amounts were already in the last budget.

According to the minister, these tools are the least expensive in order to achieve the goal as quickly as possible, mainly due to the maturity of biofuels.

Moreover, it is bioenergy that receives the largest share of the $1.2 billion pie projected to 2026. At least $950 million has been allocated to it.

“Biofuels are more mature. We are much more advanced,” Mr. Julian said.

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Green hydrogen remains a sector of the future that will improve over time. “Yes to green hydrogen,” but “you have to learn to walk before you learn to run,” the minister explained. We’ll do it in Quebec, but it won’t be for export. It will be to decarbonize Quebec.”

To create this green energy, hydropower is essential. Although Hydro-Quebec will be a strategic partner, hydroelectric surpluses are “ending,” the minister recalls.

Thus, hydrogen and bioenergy will mainly support the main actions taken to improve Quebec’s performance, such as saving energy and electricity.

With this addition, the CAQ government is aiming for energy self-sufficiency, by also allowing heavy transport and some emitting industries to achieve carbon neutrality as well.

Clean hydrogen (green), made from hydroelectric power, costs two to five times more than hydrocarbons (gray).

But within seven years, green hydrogen should be competitive. The Minister knows that the demand for hydrogen will explode in the coming years.

To achieve this, the government will provide financial assistance to innovation, local businesses and the export of technical know-how in Quebec.

“We must now invest in Quebec, whether in research or by investing in companies that will provide supply and demand,” the minister explained, especially since the demand for hydrogen will be increasingly strong. “We want to become leaders with our experience,” he said.

Outside the planned budget envelope, the government could also take stakes in companies that would qualify with Investissement Québec.

Timid

The official opposition, which proposes a $100 billion project to 2050 to nationalize green hydrogen, believes the government’s strategy is shy.

“Strategy without ambition,” said Chef Dominic Engled. “It is never a good time to be shy. Then we are faced with a government that sets no vision when we have a huge economic development project waiting for us that responds to a global issue, but with a Quebec response.

However, the strategy was welcomed by the vast majority of stakeholders such as the Quebec Association for Renewable Energy Production (AQPER) and Équiterre.

“It is good to see that the government has not fallen into the trap of offering hydrogen as a miracle solution to the climate or the economy. We must prioritize sobriety and energy efficiency, and then put the right energy in the right place,” said Emilie Boisseau Bouvier, climate policy analyst at Équiterre.

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