TES Canada | For a clear energy policy beyond dollars and megawatts

On April 29, the Minister of the Economy, Innovation and Energy, Pierre Fitzgibbon, published a letter1 extolling the merits of TES Canada’s green hydrogen production project in Shawinigan. He wanted to “reframe the debate” and applauded “private initiatives”. Because it is in a context of strong social tensions associated with the TES Canada project that Mr. Fitzgibbon is trying to regain control of a situation that is getting out of hand.


Posted at 1:09 a.m.

Updated at 11:00 a.m.

Anne-Céline Guyon

Nature Quebec

Patricia Clermont

Patricia Clermont

Quebec Association of Physicians for the Environment (AQME), and ten co-signatories*

We deplore that in the absence of a clear energy policy resulting from public debate, projects like that of TES Canada are presented piecemeal by the government, without overall public examination or debate. Because of this, it is in the communities that these divisive debates take place, in confusion, in an unstructured manner, to the detriment of the social fabric, and with elected officials left to their own devices.2.

We cannot remain silent in the face of Mr. Fitzgibbon’s remarks, which are more about the defense of private interests worthy of a bygone era than about a reflection well anchored in reality about a respectful energy transition. of the population and the environment.

Especially since the minister claims that the analyzes carried out by academics are in no way valid, and that only the responses of the company TES Canada should be listened to.

Because ignoring science is nonsense. Let’s look at why.

From the outset, Mr. Fitzgibbon defends a project which nevertheless ignores an established consensus: the production of green hydrogen costs 5 to 30 times more expensive3 than natural gas and causes significant energy losses. In the case of the production of synthetic gas made from hydrogen, the fate reserved for two thirds of TES production, the losses are even greater: from 57% to 73%.3.

This is why hydrogen and synthetic gas must be reserved for uses that are difficult to electrify, especially in heavy industry. However, it is planned to inject the synthetic gas produced by TES directly into the Énergir network. It would therefore not only be these heavy industries that would consume this gas, it would be all of Énergir’s consumers, including households, businesses and institutions. To heat buildings or cook with this highly inefficient gas, one would need to rely on a much larger amount of renewable energy than is required by direct electrification – this is clearly a false solution.

Furthermore, the injection of this gas from “renewable sources” into the network seems rather to serve to justify the extension of the life of gas pipelines which, according to government objectives, will still distribute 90% of fossil gas in 2030.

Finally, the use of hydrogen in heavy transport is also questioned by several experts, since here too, direct electrification is much more efficient. The TES project is therefore not an “essential contribution to achieving our decarbonization targets”, as Mr. Fitzgibbon promises us. There are better solutions.

Adding insult to injury

Furthermore, Mr. Fitzgibbon affirms that no funding from the Quebec government is planned, but he admits at the same time that tax credits from the federal government could be used. However, the production costs of green hydrogen and syngas will make these fuels very uncompetitive.4 ; significant public funds will inevitably have to be injected to support the business model or the consumption of these products. But it would be adding insult to injury to use so much public funds to support ineffective private solutions.

Finally, Mr. Fitzgibbon continues to question Hydro-Québec’s ability to meet current challenges by claiming that there is currently little room for maneuver, while Hydro-Québec claims not to have enough capacity for both heat the residential sector and completely decarbonize institutions (CEGEPs, schools, hospitals). However, our history has demonstrated that with a clearly demonstrated political will, Hydro-Québec is capable of carrying out large-scale projects.

Above all, the TES Canada project is not complementary to the public sector, it is rather part of a complete dismantling of our collective power to act for the benefit of private interests.

This process appears to us to have begun with the abandonment of the high voltage testing laboratory.5 of Hydro-Québec for the benefit of Hitachi and the withdrawal from the electric car charging market6 for the benefit of gas stations.

What we collectively need, to face the challenge of truly moving our society away from fossil fuels, is clear planning that goes beyond the narrow lens of megawatts and dollars. What uses should we prioritize for our precious energy? What are the contributions of the different energy sectors to decarbonization? What are the dead ends to avoid?

We call on Quebecers not to let the enthusiasm of business people hijack the necessary collective debate regarding the energy transition to favor their own interests to the detriment of the common good. The energy future is everyone’s business!

* Co-signatories: Émilie Laurin-Dansereau, ACEF du Nord de Montréal; Bruno Detuncq, Quebec Energy Vigilance Group (RVEQ); Shirley Barnea, For the Future Montreal; Dany Janvier, Against the privatization of wind and sun in Mékinac Des Chenaux (RVEQ); Jean-Pierre Finet, Grouping of environmental energy organizations (ROEE); Patrick Bonin, Greenpeace Canada; Mélanie Busby, Ahuntsic-Cartierville Environmental Mobilization (MEAC); Ève Duhaime, TerraVie; André Bélanger, Fondation Rivières; Jean-Philippe Waaub, Collective of scientists on energy issues

1. Read “TES Canada: a necessary project for Quebec”

2. Read “TES Canada: the MRC of Mékinac calls on Minister Fitzgibbon”

3. Read “Hydrogen-produced synthetic natural gas (e-gas) – TES Canada case study”

4. Read “Study questions commercial viability of TES Canada”

5. Read “Varennes: Hitachi takes over a Hydro-Québec laboratory”

6. Read “Charging stations: Hydro-Québec wants to leave its place to the private sector”

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