Hydro-Québec has seen its customers becoming significantly more energy-efficient as they change their electricity use habits. This tendency is confirmed by the demand forecasts for the next 10 years released in the Electricity Supply Plan 2017–2026. Hydro-Québec anticipates average yearly growth of 0.4% in energy needs and 0.6% in capacity needs over that time.
Major strides in energy efficiency
Between 2003 and 2015, Hydro-Québec's investments in energy efficiency yielded savings of 8.8 terawatthours (TWh), or the equivalent of the power used by 500,000 households. These remarkable results are compounded by important new changes in customers' energy consumption habits as well as the impact of efficient products.
- The winters of 2013–2014 and 2014–2015 were extremely cold, leading to changes in heating habits that were carried over last winter. In practical terms, customers who changed their habits typically lowered their thermostats by 2.6°C in winter.
- LED bulbs and CFLs have penetrated the market quickly; more than 39 million were installed in the past three years.
- New constructions are better insulated and up to 20% more energy-efficient.
Of course, Québec consumers are not the only ones who have changed their ways and taken to efficient products. These trends are also being observed elsewhere in the world.
Average growth of 0.4% in energy needs
Hydro-Québec forecasts average yearly growth in energy needs of 0.4% from 2017 on. Yet changing energy habits and more efficient products have had an impact on energy demand forecasts. For 2017 to 2026, the Electricity Supply Plan forecasts a need for 58 TWh less than anticipated earlier.
That will make an average of 11.3 TWh available each year for the next 10 years. Hydro-Québec is already starting to find ways to make the most of this energy.
- Last May, the company announced a campaign to attract data centres to Québec. In recent years, several major players, including Microsoft, Ericsson, Amazon and OVH, have invested in Québec by setting up their data centres here.
- Hydro-Québec offers the Economic Development Rate to large-power customers who expect to increase their use of electricity. So far, nine companies have signed agreements to take advantage of the offer.
- Furthermore, Hydro-Québec Production is selling its available energy at a profit on export markets and working actively to develop new markets. On October 21, Hydro-Québec announced it had signed a seven-year agreement with Ontario for the sale of 14 TWh.
Average growth of 0.6% in capacity needs
Hydro-Québec forecasts average yearly growth in capacity needs of 0.6% from 2017 on. The company has nonetheless reviewed its capacity needs in keeping with the decline in the growth of residential demand. Capacity is the amount of electricity that can be supplied or used at a given time.
In Québec, capacity needs are strongly influenced by heating in the winter peak period. For 2017 to 2026, projections have been revised downward by some 1,000 MW per year, on average. This adjustment will benefit customers by averting the need for purchases that could push rates up.
Use of TCE facility at Bécancour during winter peak
Given the projected capacity needs and observed trends in consumer habits, Hydro-Québec will act with due caution regarding the possible use of the TransCanada Énergie generating station at Bécancour during the winter peak. To this end, Hydro-Québec will be closely monitoring its customers' behavior this winter to determine the future of the project. One thing is certain: Hydro-Québec is committed to purchasing only the capacity it needs to ensure reliable power for its customers, in an effort to maintain the lowest rates in North America.