In July 2015, in response to the Government Sustainable Development Strategy 2015–2020 (in French only), we published our third Sustainable Development Action Plan. 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 continued on the new hydropower facilities in the Minganie region (Côte-Nord). Romaine-2 and Romaine-1 generating stations having come onstream in 2014 and 2015, our teams concentrated their efforts on the Romaine-3 (395 MW) and Romaine-4 (245 MW) jobsites.
After concreting was completed on Romaine-3, we began assembling the generating units and installing the mechanical and electrical systems and architectural components. The gates for the spillway and diversion tunnel were installed. The Romaine-3 switchyard has been in place since fall 2016, and the plant is slated to go into operation in 2017.
At Romaine-4 (245 MW), we awarded contracts for the generating units, diversion tunnel gates, dam and penstock linings. The main activities carried out at the site were the building of access roads and land clearing for the permanent structures. Excavation began on the diversion tunnel and the generating station. The facility will deliver its first megawatts in 2020.
Action 2: Increase the capacity of existing hydroelectric generating stations
Indicator Cumulative gains in additional available peak capacity
At Rapide-2 and Rapide-7 in Abitibi-Témiscamingue, capacity gains of 3 MW were recorded at each generating station during the 2015–2016 winter peak, following the replacement of one of their turbine runners. These improvements yielded an average additional output of 8 GWh per year. The project will continue with the replacement of other runners. Other initiatives that resulted in capacity and output gains included equipment rehabilitation and the improved modeling of generating units.
Action 3: Continue energy efficiency initiatives
Indicator New annual energy savings
Thanks to customer participation in our different energy efficiency programs, energy savings in 2016 totaled 534 GWh: 204 GWh for the residential market and 330 GWh for the business market.
Having noticed that our customers are making energy efficiency an increasingly important part of their electricity use habits, we have consequently factored this trend into our 10-year demand forecasts. We anticipate average yearly growth of 0.4% in energy needs and 0.6% in capacity needs for the period covered by the Electricity Supply Plan 2017–2026.
We have also observed the emergence of new energy consumption habits and the impact of efficient products. As in previous years, customers continued to turn down the heat during the 2015–2016 winter, keeping their homes an average of 2.6°C cooler. LED bulbs and CFLs have penetrated the market quickly, with close to 42 million installed in the past three years. New constructions are better insulated and up to 20% more energy-efficient. Going forward, our energy efficiency efforts will centre on further educating customers, covering topics such as capacity needs.
Action 4: Continue efforts in the field of transportation electrification in Québec
Indicator Number of Electric Circuit charging stations in service and number of regions served
Indicator Partnership agreements for R&D
Indicator Number of patents held
Launched in 2012, the Electric Circuit has 181 partners, 11,458 members and is made up of 794 charging stations. In 2016, we added 183 new 240-V charging stations and 37 new 400-V fast-charge stations in 16 of Québec’s 17 administrative regions.
Hydro-Québec’s research institute, IREQ, plays a major role in battery material research, design and development, and in the commercialization of related patents. Its work includes research on the physical components of high energy and power density lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles and large-scale energy storage. Five of our current industrial partnerships relate to transportation electrification. Hydro-Québec also holds 572 patents linked to energy storage and conversion.
Action 5: Publicize the knowledge acquired through Hydro-Québec environmental studies
Indicator Number of documents published on the Web
For many years, we have been conducting environmental impact assessments in connection with our projects. In 2016, our publications included the following three scientific papers:
- Simulating carbon dioxide exchange in boreal ecosystems flooded by reservoirs. Presents a model for quantifying emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), a greenhouse gas, from reservoirs in boreal regions based on the carbon present in the soil before flooding.
- Modeling surface energy fluxes and thermal dynamics of a seasonally ice-covered hydroelectric reservoir. Proposes a new model for anticipating the thermal dynamics of boreal reservoirs for a full year and more accurately predicting ice cover periods. The model also provides a more exact simulation of a reservoir’s carbon cycle.
- Does the creation of a boreal hydroelectric reservoir result in a net change in evaporation? Demonstrates that ecosystems, prior to the creation of a reservoir, were significant sources of evaporation and evapotranspiration. Overall, the quantity of evaporated water from Eastmain 1 reservoir (Nord-du-Québec), which we studied, is now slightly higher than that of the ecosystems present before the reservoir was created. Conclusion: the reservoir’s net loss of water through evaporation is approximately 20% higher than that of the ecosystems it replaced.
Action 6: Continue to protect and enhance the company’s built, technological and intangible heritage
Indicator Number of measures carried out by 2020
The Robert-Bourassa facility’s interpretation centre was updated in 2015. Focusing on the theme In the heart of the boreal forest, visitors are invited to explore the centre’s topical sections, which highlight the generating station and the village of Radisson. (Nord-du-Québec)
We upgraded the interpretation centre at Daniel-Johnson dam and Manic-5 generating station. In addition to renewing the exhibit, we added an outdoor children’s playground and a covered terrace for picnics. The redesigned centre was inaugurated on June 28. Exploring the captivating history of Manic-5, the exhibit takes visitors back to the 1960s when the construction of the facilities was in full swing. The centre uses state-of-the-art technologies and the latest museum practices, including touch screens and a photo booth, where visitors can take pictures of themselves with the construction site in the background and send them out by e-mail or post them on social media sites. (Côte-Nord)
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 20.5% compared with 2009, and by 9.8% compared with 2015 (25,322 t CO2 eq.). After finalizing the installation of next-generation meters, we reduced the number of vehicles dedicated to meter reading by over 300. At December 31, our fleet had a total of 5,229 vehicles, including 1,552 heavy vehicles. GHG emissions from our heavy-vehicle fleet have decreased by 2.9% compared with 2009, but increased by 3.8% compared with 2015 (27,678 t CO2 eq.). We purchased 24 new heavy vehicles and recorded a 2% increase in the number of kilometres travelled.
Our light-vehicle fleet includes 98 electric vehicles (all-electric and plug-in hybrid), and we plan to add another 400, and more, 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. As of 2017, all our panel trucks will be equipped with this technology.
In 2016, business travel by senior management generated some 65 t CO2 eq., which were offset through the purchase of carbon credits.
Indicator Number of videoconferences held annually
The videoconference target set for 2020 has already been exceeded. We will continue to increase the use of videoconferencing and to educate employees on this communication tool that reduces costs, travel and GHG emissions. In addition, 11,343 meetings were held online in 2016. We also installed a unified communications application on 11,000 computer workstations to facilitate remote collaboration between employees through features such as screen sharing.
Indicator Percentage of company printers that are print-release enabled
The print release service optimizes our printer pool, saves paper and supplies, and increases confidentiality. In 2016, this service allowed us to reduce paper use by 11%. Our printer pool is made up of 3,238 printers, of which 370 are print-release enabled and 1,795 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 2016, we carried out seven innovative initiatives.
- Implemented measures to protect the four-toed salamander.
- Installed five hibernation shelters for Dekay's brown snake and conducted an environmental follow-up of their use.
- Studied nine high-priority pests (invasive species).
- Published and disseminated the Guide de reconnaissance des milieux humides (wetland identification guide) in digital format.
- Monitored the movement of young salmon according to variations in flow in the Rivière Romaine.
- Developed and applied an environmental DNA technique to monitor fish communities in the Rupert diversion bays.
- Established the NSERC/Hydro-Québec Industrial Research Chair in Phytotechnology.
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 applied sustainability principles to our projects and operations, including our construction and refurbishment projects and our operation and maintenance activities. All our projects must meet three conditions: they must be profitable, environmentally acceptable and favorably received by the host communities. To support the government’s intention to bolster the application of sustainability principles to structuring initiatives, we will undertake a gradual analysis of our significant projects and activities through the lens of sustainability principles. In 2016, a specific analysis was carried out as part of the work on the Strategic Plan 2016–2020.
Action 10: Promote the integration and favorable reception of Hydro-Québec’s system equipment
Indicator Percentage of regional county municipalities (MRCs) that have received the information program
We will be launching an information program aimed at municipal authorities (land-use and urban planners), with details on the power system 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. In 2016, we finished developing a training course and ran two pilot training sessions. The training course will start being rolled out to MRCs in 2017.
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 to our innovation process. In 2016, we applied this approach to cable vaults.
Our power system has some 14,000 cable vaults (link in French only), and over 100 new vaults are added every year. Used to connect and maintain the distribution system, these underground structures are made of reinforced concrete. However, due to the hostility of the environment (humidity, salts, acidity, temperature), the concrete deteriorates prematurely and reinforcing bars become corroded. The resulting replacement operations lead to significant economic and environmental impacts.
We are therefore looking to improve the durability of cable vaults through the use of innovative materials, and have put forward the following two suggestions:
- Replace some of the Portland cement with powdered glass and metakaolin to reduce the porosity of the concrete.
- Replace the standard steel reinforcing bars with glass-fibre-reinforced polymer bars.
Studies conducted by IREQ, in collaboration with the Université de Sherbrooke, showed that the combination of these two solutions substantially prolonged the useful life of cable vaults. The analysis examined the environmental benefits of five scenarios. Findings: using 20% powdered glass in the construction of cable vaults leads to a 35% decrease in potential impacts based on different criteria (human health, ecosystem quality, climate change and consumption of non-renewable resources); adding 9% metakaolin instead of cement brings that number up to 44%. In all the scenarios studied, the majority of environmental impacts occurred during the cable vault construction phase, followed by the installation and disposal phases. The proportion of impacts linked to each of these phases varied respectively between 65% and 80%, 15% and 20%, and 5% and 15%. The bulk of impacts from the construction phase were generated by cast iron production and the transportation of materials.
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 updated the ecoinvent life cycle inventory database with the most recent data (2014) on the composition of Québec’s electricity mix. This database allows Québec companies to leverage Québec’s clean electricity mix and use the life cycle assessment for various purposes: carbon footprint, GHG declaration, ecodesign, marketing, environmental declarations for products, sustainable procurement, etc.
Information updated included the volume of electricity generated, purchased and exported (Québec and outside Québec) in 2014; the installed capacity of the Eastmain-Sarcelle-Rupert complex and Romaine-2 generating station; the extension of the transmission and distribution systems; and power system losses.