Quebec seeks to strengthen wind

The Quebec government is forming a task force that will look at the challenges and opportunities facing the province’s wind energy sector for the balance of this decade.

This will include Quebec’s manufacturing sector where costs for certain wind turbine components such as towers are higher than in Ontario. Also, export opportunities for both wind power and components.

Quebec is Canada’s number two wind province with 2.39GW of installed generation capacity, trailing only Ontario, but its wind supply chain is larger, according to the Quebec Ministry of Energy.

The task force will have 15 members with 10 or 12 coming from the wind industry.

Energy Minister Pierre Arcand says while the provincial government stands behind the sector, “it’s also clear that the industry must – more and more as years go by – become more self-sufficient.”

Quebec has subsidized wind energy during the past decade, underpinned by a political consensus that the province needs a local wind industry. This, despite Quebec having some of the world’s most abundant and low-cost hydroelectric resources.

The main drivers have been job creation and expanding a manufacturing presence in the Gaspe Peninsula in eastern Quebec, a region with high unemployment and heavy dependence on tourism.

The Canadian Wind energy Association (CanWEA), which will be part of the task force, estimates the industry employs 5,000 in Quebec and has invested C$10bn ($9.3bn) there.

“Wind energy commissioned today in Quebec is cost-competitive with all new forms of electricity production,” says CanWEA Quebec regional director Jean-Frederick Legendre. “We are determined to work with the government to allow the industry to grow in a favorable and predictable context, which is necessary in order for new wind projects to materialize.”

The government has generally required in wind procurement tenders that developers spend 60% of overall project costs in the province and that at least 30% of each turbine is sourced in the Gaspesia-Matane area.

Arcand expects the task force will produce a report later this year. The conclusions will influence both the 2015 provincial government budget and a new energy policy that the Liberal Party will unveil in fourth quarter 2015, he says.

(Note: corrects earlier version that said Parti Quebecois ruling party).