Québec, Ontario and California are partners in the Western Climate Initiative’s carbon market. The Québec and California markets have been officially linked since January 1, 2014, and a first joint auction with Ontario is scheduled for January 2018. Under the Québec cap-and-trade (C&T) system, organizations, such as Hydro-Québec, that emit 25,000 tonnes or more of CO2 equivalent per year must offset their emissions with their GHG emission allowance, in accordance with set terms and conditions.
The Québec C&T system allocates carbon emission units based on the tonnes of GHGs that organizations can emit over a given period. At the end of each period, emitters must report their emissions and use their emission allowance to “pay” for them. The limit is lowered every year, with a view to reducing GHG emissions.
Hydro-Québec is subject to the C&T system for the following three emission sources:
- The oil-fired thermal generating station on Îles-de-la-Madeleine
- Electricity purchased outside Québec, mainly from thermal sources
- Losses of insulating gases (SF6 and CF4) from certain transmission facilities.
- Emissions avoided by net exports of electricity totaled 8,362,305 t CO2 eq. (7,953,810 t CO2 eq. in 2016).
- Atmospheric emissions from electricity generation and purchases in Québec were significantly lower than the average for neighboring Canadian provinces and U.S. states: 210,944 t CO2/TWh (378 times less), 412 t SO2/TWh (1557nbsp;times less) and 2,539 t NOx/TWh (287 times less). Every year, Hydro-Québec updates a fact sheet, Energy Supplies and Air Emissions [PDF 190 Kb], that industrial customers can use to calculate their carbon balance.
- Electric vehicles were acquired for Jean-Lesage generating station as part of an employee transportation pilot project (Manicouagan).
- A Rate and GHG Calculator was made available to potential data center customers for calculating emissions avoided and indirect water consumption, based on the data center consumption and location.
- We responded to requests for proposals from the state of Massachusetts to reduce its GHG emissions and from New York state for the purchase of renewable energy.
- We began updating the policy on managing the exercise of voting rights for the Hydro-Québec pension plan in order to incorporate best practices. This policy is an important tool for ensuring responsible investment by the plan, with a view to supporting the fight against global warming. It demands increased transparency from the companies in which the plan invests, among other things. Almost all the external managers that the pension fund deals with have signed the UN Principles for Responsible Investment established in 2006.
Carbon Footprint – Changes Since 1990
(t CO2 eq.)
|Direct sources (scope 1)|
|Generating stations||Thermal power plants||227,936|
|Mobile sources||Vehicle fleet||51,063|
|Hydro-Québec aircraft fleet||13,569|
|Utility vehicles (e.g., snowmobiles, tractors, snowblowers)||927|
|Propane-fueled lift trucks||89|
|Fuel use||System maintenance generators||3,869|
|Emergency and jobsite generators||525|
|Other uses||Equipment containing CF4 and SF6||21,832|
|Equipment containing HFCs||990|
|Indirect sources (scope 2)|
|Electrical losses||Power transmission and distribution system losses||7,890|
|Indirect sources (scope 3)|
|Indirect sources||Electricity purchases||108,400|
|Business travel – employee personal vehicles||5,581|
|Vehicles leased long-term||1,227|
|Business travel – train||12|
|Business travel – commercial airplanes||932|
|Life cycle of fuel||50,851|
|Total emissions||Direct sources (level 1)||321,694|
|Indirect sources (level 2)||7,890|
|Indirect sources (level 3)||175,861|
|Direct and indirect sources||505,444|
|Emissions avoided (Net exports of electricity)||8,362,305|
GHG emissions from Hydro-Québec operations represent 0,6% of emissions in Québec.
Overall total and sum of subtotals may differ due to rounding.
Emissions avoided by net electricity exports
Every year, Hydro-Québec conducts power interchanges with neighboring systems in both the United States and Canada. Our exports have exceeded our imports for a number of years. The companies we do business with use several different generating options, some of which (coal, oil, gas) generate more atmospheric emissions than others (hydropower, nuclear, other renewables). Consequently, electricity imports by Hydro-Québec result in atmospheric emissions outside Québec (at our Canadian and U.S. partners’ facilities), while our exports enable these companies to avoid such emissions.
Calculating emissions avoided
The calculation of emissions avoided is based on emission factors specified in the Regulation respecting mandatory reporting of certain emissions of contaminants into the atmosphere. The regulation establishes an emission factor for each electricity market with which Hydro-Québec does business. To calculate the emissions avoided, we apply the emission factor to the net quantity of electricity exported to the corresponding market and factor in the emissions in Québec associated with these net exports.
In 2017, emissions avoided by net electricity exports equal Hydro-Québec’s direct emissions over the last 17 years.