Quebec’s wind energy potential is estimated to be nearly 400,000 MW, which amounts to almost 100 times the power currently generated by its hydropower plants. Factors such as the proximity of high wind sites to existing power lines determine how much energy can actually be harnessed. By 2015, when all the projects arising out of all the Requests for Proposals (“RFPs”) issued by Hydro-Quebec are in commercial operation, Quebec will be generating approximately 4000 MW of wind energy, representing 10% of its total power output and only 1% of its wind energy potential.
HistoryWind energy was introduced in Quebec in 1998, with the Le Nordais project. Five years later, in 2003, Hydro-Quebec issued the first Request for Proposals (“RFP”) for 1,000 MW of wind energy. At the end of the selection process that followed, 8 contracts were awarded for a total of 990 MW of installed power capacity. All of the projects retained were built in the Gaspe Peninsula, an economically depressed region that had chosen to diversify its economy through the development of wind energy. Developers invested close to $2 billion, creating more than 600 jobs in new businesses dedicated to the manufacturing of wind turbine parts.
In 2005, Hydro-Quebec issued a second RFP, this time for 2000 MW of wind energy. Fifteen projects were selected, which are now in various stages of completion. By the end of 2012, these projects will have generated investments in excess of $4 billion in Quebec.
Current StatusIn 2009, another RFP was issued, this time for wind projects under 25 MW, targeted to community and First Nations initiatives. The Quebec government wanted to maximize economic spin-offs on local and regional economies as well as ensure the support of local communities. As a result, 12 projects were retained, one of which was submitted by a First Nations community. These projects are now being developed in the Lower St. Lawrence Region, the Quebec City Region, the Chaudière-Appalaches Region, the Eastern Townships, the Gaspe-Îles-de-la-Madeleine Region, the Montérégie and the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean Region.
As of December 2013, there were 23 wind farms in commission in Quebec, representing:
- 1388 wind turbines
- 2398,3 MW
- 5000 quality jobs
- an integrated supply chain of over 150 Quebec companies