(Quebec) Environmental groups believe that the controversial agreement between Hydro-Quebec and Énergir to install dual-energy heating systems over the next decade could generate much less reduction in GHG emissions than expected, which would make it even more difficult the achievement of Quebec’s climate targets.
According to Greenpeace and the Association of Environmental Energy Organizations (ROEE), this agreement will only reduce GHG emissions from the building heating sector by 350,000 to 375,000 tonnes, rather than the 540,000 tonnes promised by Hydro-Québec. .
They believe that the Crown corporation is overestimating the amount of heating system conversion it will be able to do by underestimating the useful life of the heating systems.
The marketing strategy is to wait until the systems have to be changed, but the lifespan of a furnace is 21.5 years for residential systems and 23 years for commercial.
Jean-Pierre Finet, ROEE analyst
In a brief submitted to the Régie de l’énergie, the Association de l’hôtellerie du Québec and the Association Restauration Québec came to the same conclusion. They believe that “the Distributors’ projections underestimate the life of natural gas space heating equipment for all three sectors and overestimate the life of water heating equipment”.
Heat pumps, faster
Greenpeace and the ROEE also criticize the government’s strategy, which they associate with “wait-and-see”, of replacing only end-of-life equipment. “There’s no reason why we shouldn’t install as many heat pumps and electric boilers as possible right away so that we can benefit from GHG emissions. There is no need to delay this conversion to dual energy unnecessarily,” says Mr. Finet.
If by 2030 all the facilities, all the buildings that heat with gas had heat pumps, we would get a lot more than 540,000. They could reach 900,000 tonnes.
Patrick Bonin, Climate-Energy Campaigner at Greenpeace Canada
Hydro-Québec replies that it does not question its objective and that the lifespan of 15 years is an average between the lifespan of a water heater and that of a hot air generator.
2.4 billion by 2050
Greenpeace and the ROEE are against the very basis of the agreement: Hydro-Québec will pay compensation to the natural gas distributor Énergir to compensate for the reduction in consumption of building owners who will turn to a dual-energy system. In return, Hydro-Québec ensures that these customers will turn to gas heating during winter peaks, to prevent consumption from exceeding its production capacity.
They estimate that Hydro-Québec will thus pay 2.4 billion to Énergir by 2050. However, the Régie de l’énergie has not authorized the state-owned company to pass on this bill to electricity consumers, so it will have to subtract it from its profits.
Patrick Bonin believes that we apply the principle of “polluter paid”, and fears that this “bad” agreement does not even have the “expected reductions”.
For its part, Hydro-Québec maintains that this agreement is necessary in the context of Québec’s energy transition. Spokesperson Maxence Huard-Lefebvre indicates that it would be “too expensive” to invest in the purchase of electricity supply to meet electricity demand during peak periods.