In July 2015, in response to the Government Sustainable Development Strategy 2015–2020 (in French only), we published our third Sustainable Development Action Plan [PDF 511 Kb]. Through our initiatives, we aim to contribute to implementing this strategy, the strategy to ensure the occupancy and vitality of territories (in French only) and Québec’s Agenda 21 for culture.
Sustainable Development Action Plan 2015-2020 follow-up
- Action related to the implementation of the strategy to ensure the occupancy and vitality of territories.
- Action related to the implementation of Québec’s Agenda 21 for culture.
Action 1: Build hydropower projects
Indicator Cumulative capacity made available by the Romaine project
Construction of the Romaine complex, in Minganie in the Côte-Nord region, progressed quickly. Our crews commissioned both units at Romaine-3 generating station (395 MW) in September, then brought the output onto the grid. Romaine-2 and Romaine-1 have been in operation since 2014 and 2015, respectively.
At Romaine-3, we finished excavating the tailrace canal and poured the concrete to close off the diversion tunnel. The reservoir was impounded and cleared of wood debris.
At the Romaine-4 jobsite (245 MW), we completed excavation of the temporary diversion, as well as construction of the downstream boat ramp. The access ramps are in place, in preparation for the resumption of excavation work at the site in 2018. Remediation of the main road has been done. The facility will deliver its first megawatts in 2020.
Romaine-3 substation, the Romaine-3–Romaine-4 line and the Romaine-4–Montagnais line were all completed in September. Work on Romaine-4 substation is set to begin in 2018.
Action 2: Increase the capacity of existing hydroelectric generating stations
Indicator Cumulative gains in additional available peak capacity
Capacity gains of 3 MW were recorded at both Rapide-2 and Rapide-7 in Abitibi-Témiscamingue during the 2016–2017 winter peak, following the replacement of one of the turbine runners in each generating station. The overhaul of the equipment also yielded additional annual output of 12 GWh. Rapides-des-Quinze generating station, which has been similarly refurbished, has seen a power gain of 6.6 MW in the same period. Improving the performance of these facilities has resulted in additional output of 23.8 GWh per year. The project will continue with the replacement of other runners.
Action 3: Continue energy efficiency initiatives
Indicator New annual energy savings (GWh)
Thanks to customer participation in our various energy efficiency programs, energy savings in 2017 totaled 524 GWh: 203 GWh for the residential market (including off-grid systems) and 321 GWh for the business market. We estimate that the Demand Response Program will cut power demand by 282 MW in 2017–2018, primarily through the participation of commercial and institutional customers.
These results reflect our current priorities, which are to maintain the recurring savings achieved to date, increase the effect of demand response and continue energy efficiency efforts.
Action 4: Continue efforts in the field of transportation electrification in Québec
Indicator Number of Electric Circuit charging stations in service/number of regions served
Indicator R&D partnership agreements
Indicator Number of patents held
Launched in 2012, the Electric Circuit has 251 partners and 1,271 charging stations in Québec. As at December 31, 2017, there were 1,175 regular 240-V stations and 96 fast-charge (400-V) stations, in 16 of the province’s 17 administrative regions. The Electric Circuit was extended into Ontario, with the addition of eight 240-V stations and ten 400-V stations along highways and in Ottawa.
The center of excellence in transportation electrification and energy storage, opened in 2017, does R&D work on battery materials and commercializes associated patents. Its research involves the physical components of high energy and power density lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles and large-scale energy storage systems. Five of our current industrial partnerships relate to transportation electrification. Hydro-Québec also holds 552 patents linked to energy storage and conversion.
Action 5: Publicize the knowledge acquired through Hydro-Québec environmental studies
Indicator Number of publications on the Web
For many years, we have been conducting environmental impact assessments in connection with our projects. In 2017, we issued seven publications:
- Synthèse des connaissances sur le patrimoine bâti et technologique (in French). Results of the inventories of built and technological heritage conducted since 2003 and recommendations.
- Bilan des études de suivi du milieu humain en phase d’exploitation – Utilisation du territoire par les autochtones, Phase 2 – Analyse. Analytic summary of environmental follow-ups examining land use by Indigenous communities in areas with hydroelectric developments.
- Saltwater Intrusion in the Baie de Rupert, James Bay. Nontechnical report on the knowledge acquired and results produced by the monitoring of saltwater intrusion in the Baie de Rupert, with a section on traditional Indigenous knowledge.
- If You Build It, Will They Come? Spawning Habitat Remediation for Sturgeon. Paper on the knowledge acquired and the results produced by the monitoring of habitat created for sturgeon on the Rivière Rupert.
- Long Term Follow-up of pCO2, pCH4 and Emissions from Eastmain 1 Boreal Reservoir, and the Rupert Diversion Bays, Canada. Scientific paper on the effect of the partial diversion of the Rivière Rupert on overall greenhouse gas emissions at Eastmain 1 reservoir.
- Monitoring Saltwater Intrusion in Rupert Bay, Québec, Canada, After the Partial Diversion of a Major Tributary. Scientific paper on the state of knowledge of saltwater intrusion in the Rivière Rupert after eight years of monitoring.
- Intensity and Duration of Effects of Impoundment on Mercury Levels in Fishes of Hydroelectric Reservoirs in Northern Québec (Canada). Summary of knowledge acquired and results produced by the monitoring of mercury in fish in reservoirs of the La Grande complex.
Action 6: Continue to protect and enhance the company’s built, technological and intangible heritage
Indicator Number of measures carried out by 2020
We published the first heritage booklet on Beauharnois generating station in Montérégie, presenting some aspects of the history of the place and its architectural and technological heritage. It is available at the generating station interpretation center.
Action 7: Strengthen environmentally responsible management practices
Indicator Annual GHG emissions from the light-vehicle fleet
GHG emissions from Hydro-Québec’s light-vehicle fleet have decreased by 25.1% compared with 2009, and by 5.8% compared with 2016 (22,852 t CO2 eq.). This result is thanks to a drop of more than 500,000 litres in fuel consumption compared with the previous year. At December 31, our fleet comprised 5,174 vehicles, including 1,571 heavy vehicles. GHG emissions from our heavy-vehicle fleet have decreased by 0.2% relative to 2009, but were up 2.8% from 2016 (28,718 t CO2 eq.). Over the past year, we purchased 20 new heavy vehicles and recorded a 9% increase in the number of kilometres traveled.
Currently, there are 150 light hybrid or plug-in vehicles in our fleet. We intend to increase that number to 50 by 2020. Our heavy-vehicle fleet includes 5 hybrid bucket trucks and 11 panel trucks equipped with rechargeable backup generating sets that supply various tools and replace the generator usually found in this type of vehicle. A process to procure 26 new panel trucks with hybrid systems is under way.
Business travel by senior management generated some 28 t CO2 eq. in emissions, which were offset through the purchase of carbon credits.
Indicator Number of videoconferences held annually
The 2020 target for videoconferences has already been exceeded. We will continue to increase the use of videoconferencing in the years to come and maintain our efforts to educate employees about this communication tool that reduces costs, travel and GHG emissions. A unified communications application has now been installed on most computer workstations to enable features such as screen sharing.
Indicator Company printers that are print-release enabled (%)
The print-release service optimizes our printer pool, saves paper and supplies, and increases confidentiality. In 2017, this service allowed us to reduce paper use by 10%. Our printer pool is made up of 3,383 printers (3,238 in 2016), including 542 (370 in 2016) that are print-release enabled and 1,741 that include a print-release feature.
Action 8: Continue measures that take into account and protect biodiversity and ecosystem services
Indicator Number of innovative measures implemented annually to take into account and protect biodiversity and ecosystem services
In accordance with government guidelines, we are continuing our efforts to take into account and protect biodiversity and ecosystem services. In 2017, we carried out five innovative initiatives:
- In developed wetlands surrounding the Romaine complex, seeded grasslands with native species instead of the standard mixes.
- Conducted telemetric monitoring of the golden eagle to examine the impact of building the Romaine complex, including a heliport platform and sand pit, on the use of its habitat.
- Implemented an action plan for inventorying, transporting and reclaiming ash tree waste with a view to limiting the spread of the emerald ash borer. According to the inventory of the grounds of 43 administrative buildings in regulated areas, there are 9,000 ash trees on the grounds of 23 administrative buildings, 90% of them in wooded areas. Over 300 ash trees have been felled and about a hundred have been treated.
- Carried out acoustic inventories to determine bat diversity, as bat populations are in decline, or to check for Bicknell’s thrushes on project sites. Seven species of bats were inventoried.
- Determined functional traits of all Québec trees and shrubs so we can update the Guide to Ornamental Trees and Shrubs and protect biodiversity better.
Action 9: Optimize the application of sustainability principles to projects and activities
Indicator Number of projects or activities analyzed each year
For many years now, we have followed sustainability principles in our projects and operations, including construction and refurbishment projects and operation and maintenance activities. All Hydro-Québec projects must meet the following conditions: they must be profitable, environmentally acceptable and favorably received by local communities. To support the government’s intention to bolster the application of sustainability principles to structuring initiatives, we are undertaking a gradual analysis of our significant projects and activities through the lens of sustainability principles.
In 2017, we carried out a specific analysis of the dike refurbishment project at Les Cèdres generating station. We observed that 15 of the 16 principles of sustainable development in the Québec Sustainable Development Act were followed.
This refurbishment project takes into account the health and quality of life of local residents, environmental protection and the involvement of local communities. It also includes many mitigation measures.
Action 10: Promote the integration and favorable reception of Hydro-Québec’s system equipment
Indicator Regional county municipalities (RCMs) that have received the information program (%)
We have launched an information program targeting municipal authorities (land-use and urban planners) in the Bas-Saint-Laurent, Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean and Abitibi-Témiscamingue regions to provide details about the power grid and its impact on land development. The program will help improve knowledge and the recommended approaches for developing land-use and planning tools, such as land-use and urban development plans.
Action 11: Integrate the notion of life cycle in our innovation efforts
Indicator Number of projects to which sustainability and eco-innovation principles have been applied
To reduce our environmental footprint and increase the social acceptability of our technological innovations, we are integrating sustainability principles into our innovation process. In 2017, this was the case in a research project on the treatment of contaminated soil.
Rehabilitating sites polluted with a mixture of organic and inorganic contaminants is challenging. These contaminants have quite different physical and chemical properties, requiring expensive multistage treatment. The current method is to excavate the soil, heat-treat it to break down the organic compounds and then bury it due to the residual levels of inorganic contaminants.
The main goal of our research project was to develop an effective, economically viable and environmentally sound strategy for treating contaminated soil. We had originally planned to do a comparative life-cycle analysis, but that turned out to be impossible, given the lack of data on thermal power generation. We therefore did a qualitative comparison of thermal generation and the treatment developed by the Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS), looking at three factors: environmental impact, social acceptability and human health. The new INRS treatment seems preferable both environmentally and socially, as well as technically and economically.
We nonetheless performed a life-cycle analysis to determine which stages of the INRS treatment had the greatest potential impact on the environment. The process uses chemicals, but reuses the same water at every stage, which helps shrink its environmental footprint.
Action 12: Keep updating the state of knowledge on the life cycle assessment of the electricity distributed in Québec
Indicator Number of updates of inventory data on the life cycle of Québec’s electricity mix per year
In collaboration with the International Reference Centre for the Life Cycle of Products, Processes and Services (CIRAIG), we provided the Québec BD-ICV and international ecoinvent life-cycle inventory databases with the most recent data (2015) on the composition of Québec’s electricity mix. These databases allow the province’s companies to leverage Québec’s clean electricity mix and use the life-cycle assessment for various purposes: carbon footprint, GHG declarations, ecodesign, marketing, environmental declarations for products, sustainable procurement, etc.
Information updated included total volume and origin of electricity generated, purchased (inside and outside Québec) and exported in 2015. More specifically, the updated information included, for 2015, the addition of the output of the new Romaine-1 generating station (270 MW of installed capacity and a small reservoir covering 12.6 km2), the addition of the output of five new wind farms (403 MW of installed capacity) and the extension of the transmission system (85 km) and distribution system (675 km).