There are many ways to generate electricity but all generating options have environmental impacts. To better understand the effects of each option, Hydro-Québec asked the Interuniversity Research Centre for the Life Cycle of Products, Processes and Services (CIRAIG) to conduct a study comparing the environmental impacts of the main power generation options and electricity mixes from various regions around the world. This study is based on life cycle assessment (LCA), which measures the environmental impact of a product or service over part or all of its life cycle.

  • Power generation options: Based on the seven environmental indicators studied, the results for hydropower are excellent thanks to the option’s minimal use of resources during the generation phase. Conversely, non-renewable thermal generation options show poorer results, due to the extraction, transformation and use of fuels.
  • Electricity mixes: According to the study, electricity supplied in Québec has one of the best environmental performances. Even when compared to other regions with a heavy reliance on hydropower, such as Manitoba and Norway, Québec’s electricity mix fared better.

This graph illustrates the excellent results shown by hydropower in comparison with non-renewable thermal generation options. In addition, relative to other Canadian provinces and other parts of the world, electricity supplied in Québec has one of the best environmental performances.

See also