Research facilities driving energy transition


Our projects are carried out in state-of-the-art testing facilities and laboratories so that research teams can experiment with and validate innovations.

Our facilities support each of the three orientations of our technical vision, which are described in greater detail below.

Energy test houses

Energy test houses are connected to our power grid and were designed to study energy use. They are equipped with numerous instruments to validate energy models and determine the impacts of various technologies and strategies for managing electricity consumption.

Test houses also support our subsidiary Hilo’s development of the smart home—a home equipped with connected electric and electronic devices.

Renewable energy test bench

The renewable energy test bench simulates various sources of alternative energy, such as solar. It allows us to characterize inverters and accumulators, and make sure equipment is aligned with the distribution system.

Dual-climate chamber

The dual-climate chamber allows us to characterize the performance of thermostats used to heat rooms individually and to validate performance requirements based on the CSA-C828 standard.

Connected devices laboratory

This laboratory is equipped with infrastructure that characterizes connected loads and their communication protocols. The infrastructure helps integrate connected devices (such as thermostats, lightbulbs, locks, etc.) for different types of customers and validates their interactions with power grids.

High-capacity heat pump test bench

This test bench, which is located in a large government building, assesses performance and optimizes control of an impressive CO2 heat pump having a thermal capacity of 1.5 MW. Natural gas (a fossil fuel) used to heat water and the spaces in the building has been replaced by an electric heat pump to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as part of the energy transition.

Thermal storage test benches

These test benches characterize and evaluate the performance of different types of local and central thermal storage units. Demand management, dual energy and electric heating are measured to determine their potential. User comfort is measured is well.

Lac-Mégantic microgrid

Hydro-Québec puts its expertise to work in the Lac-Mégantic microgrid, through solar-energy integration, energy storage and consumption management.

In practical terms, the resulting know-how will be used to convert off-grid systems generating energy from fossil fuels.

Find out more about the Lac-Mégantic microgrid project

Test laboratories for transmission lines

At our full-size outdoor facilities, the mechanical performance of high-voltage transmission lines are studied and tested in a safe environment. The facilities are also used to test and validate performance of conductors and power-line hardware prior to commissioning.

Robotics laboratory

Operating a power grid means dealing with a number of challenges: aging assets, growing demand and the proliferation of operating constraints.

Hydro-Québec has developed innovative robotic tools and maintenance strategies to keep facilities running smoothly and optimize their useful life.

CASIR high-performance computation center

Research in high-performance computation, combined with the impressive capabilities of the CASIR center, are challenging the frontiers of many innovations. Examples of such applications include digital simulations of flow in generating units and power grids, and the processing of digital images from a scanning electron microscope.

Mechanical and environmental test facilities

These facilities include climate chambers used to test various types of equipment under a wide range of conditions.

Energy system of the future laboratory (LABSEF)

LABSEF can be described as a digital version of tomorrow’s power system. The laboratory creates and tests complex phenomena from start to finish, based on the interoperability of innovation projects between the CRHQ’s facilities and a virtual power grid.

In this energy system, the condition of assets, customer habits and grid status are monitored in real time. The laboratory’s activities are aimed to help improve the planning, operation and self-resiliency of Hydro-Québec’s grid.

Cyber security and technology convergence laboratory (LCCT)

LCCT is outfitted with experimental infrastructure used to design and validate new cybersecurity solutions for the power grid.

It is also equipped with telecommunications and power co-simulation platforms, emulation environments and data-processing platforms that rely on artificial intelligence tools. LCCT’s experimental environment helps model cyberthreats and analyzes their impact and mitigation measures.

Distribution test line

The distribution test line is unique in North America. It covers almost a square kilometre and has a complete 25-kV distribution system with overhead and underground components. The test line is linked by various communication technologies to wind and solar facilities, and to battery storage systems.

The system is connected to a distribution substation equipped with an independent transformer that allows for different types of tests.

Power system simulation laboratory

Wide-scale integration of renewable energy sources in the context of energy transition requires adaptable, high-performance simulation tools. The goal is to conduct studies and tests on increasingly complex and sophisticated systems.

Since the early 1980s, Hydro-Québec has operated a real-time power system simulation laboratory at IREQ. The laboratory is fully digital and runs Hypersim, a real-time and deferred digital simulation technology for power grids.

Hypersim simulates large, complex systems by integrating generation, transmission and distribution as well. It uses a parallel architecture and runs on the computing power of supercomputers. It basically consists of three software components: a power system modeling and simulation environment; an application for acquiring, processing and analysing results; and a tool for test scheduling and automation.

Hypersim can be connected to various types of external equipment to create a closed-loop system (called “hardware in the loop” or HIL): replicas of control systems, interconnection protection systems, compensation systems, a flexible alternating current transmission system (FACTS) or automated control systems.

Since several testing areas can be operated simultaneously, various projects can be carried out in parallel, including real-time system studies, equipment commissioning and the development or optimization of system automation algorithms (new controls or protection).

SimP power simulator

The SimP power simulator is a new generation of research and testing infrastructure for creating experimental transmission and distribution systems.

Part of these systems is real and consists of actual distribution equipment and decentralized energy resources (RED). The other part is virtual and simulated. This infrastructure is used to develop, test and validate the technologies of future systems.

The complete infrastructure results from the connection of IREQ’s electricity distribution test line to the Hypersim real-time electricity transmission systems digital simulator.

La Citière and IREQ photovoltaic solar generating stations

These two generating stations, which supply 9.5 MW, have several objectives:

  • Increase Hydro-Québec’s expertise in solar generation to complement other generation sources
  • Assess centralized generation of photovoltaic solar energy in Québec and build on Hydro-Québec’s knowledge of its effects on the power grid and on the management of its generating fleet
  • Determine which photovoltaic technology is best suited to Québec’s specific conditions and to Hydro-Québec’s grid
Learn more about the photovoltaic solar generating stations at La Citière and IREQ

PoNT laboratory

The PoNT laboratory is dedicated to digitizing transmission substations for pre-deployment operational tests of an actual transmission substation. This platform provides a better understanding of how an actual facility performs in different situations and helps to carry out tests in a virtual environment in order to limit the risks for real facilities.

This laboratory also provides an excellent setting for validating new concepts and determining which technologies should be the focus of the future.

Digital production laboratory

The mission of the digital production laboratory is to develop and validate standardized digital technological solutions that will upgrade monitoring, protection and control systems that have become obsolete.

The work carried out in this laboratory aids in:

  • mastering new technologies (understanding how they work and assessing their maturity)
  • helping to determine which technologies to implement and to what extent
  • reducing the risks associated with new technologies
  • accelerating commissioning

The talented minds behind our innovations

To generate innovative and promising ideas, IREQ has brought together an extensive network of partners, university students and experienced collaborators.