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The HEC Montréal Chair in Energy Sector Management launches État de l’énergie au Québec – 2015

December 11, 2014

“At a time when we are faced with major decisions about energy, it’s incredible to realize that information in Canada on energy systems is scattered, difficult to find and sometimes conflicting,” laments Pierre-Olivier Pineau, holder of the HEC Montréal Chair in Energy Sector Management. “ So although Canada is the world’s fifth-largest energy producer, the provincial and federal governments do not provide global and structured access to energy data. This can considerably limit our understanding of the sector, affect perceptions and even hinder decision making on the issues at hand. Because we want to shed more light on this sector, today we are launching the first edition of État de l’énergie au Québec, examining the energy situation in Quebec.”

This annual overview, intended for both the industry and the general public, brings together the latest and most relevant data on the energy sector. It offers not only a retrospective of the highlights of 2014, but also looks at what the future holds for 2015. The Chair in Energy Sector Management has also included an innovative tool for visualizing the entire energy system in Quebec and evaluating its efficiency. For the very first time in Quebec, readers can make the connection between energy sources, their transformation into different energy products and their consumption for different uses, all at a glance.

“In the end, this analysis leads to a very worrisome observation: only 50% of the energy that moves through Quebec’s energy system is useful,” observes Pierre-Olivier Pineau. “In other words, half of our energy brings no value added to the province’s economy. So we would do well to improve our energy system. In fact, more efficient management could even give us a surplus – an excellent prospect in these times of economic austerity.”

 

Some surprising results

État de l’énergie in Quebec – 2015 reveals that the main handicap for Quebeckers in terms of energy and rising greenhouse gas emissions comes from the transportation sector, rather than from industry, as might be supposed. Nearly 40% of all energy losses in Quebec are due to inefficiencies linked to the transportation system, followed by the industrial sector (21%). Yet for transportation, 75% of energy losses occur when it is consumed, as compared with 34% for industry. “This clearly shows that the industrial sector has considerably improved its performance in recent years, and that Quebec’s challenge when it comes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions lies mainly in changes to the transportation sector,” explains Pineau. “We need all Quebeckers to pitch in if we want to do better.”

Among the noteworthy highlights of the annual overview:

  • In 2012, the transportation sector accounted for 78% of total consumption of petroleum products and was responsible for about 43% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the province, while direct spending in this sector by Quebec households was $35 billion.
  • Between 1990 and 2011, the number of vehicles in Quebec soared by 41%, or three times population growth.
  • In 2013, Quebec had 6.19 million vehicles on the road, 4.5 million of them passenger vehicles. Only 2,327 electric vehicles were used in Quebec, less than 0.04% of the total number.
  • In Quebec, sales of fuel at the pump for all service stations rose from $9.8 billion in 2008 to $11.9 billion in 2012 – a 22% increase – while the price of regular gas was up by 13%.
  • In 2013, Quebec’s crude oil imports came mainly from Africa (47%), the North Sea (12%), the United States (9%) and Mexico (7%). Shipments from eastern and western Canada represented only 5%.
  • On a more anecdotal note, Quebec households spend about as much on alcohol and tobacco as they do on electricity, regardless of their income level.

A few recommendations

In light of this analysis, the report makes a few recommendations: “We need to make transportation a priority, in particular by developing alternatives to driver-only trips, discouraging the use of gas-guzzling vehicles and promoting cleaner fuels,” Pineau says. “Improvements in industry could come from more ambitious energy-management strategies and technological innovations. The residential and commercial sectors, which account for 34% of demand, lose an average of 24% at the time of use. Regulatory or tax measures such as higher energy-efficiency standards for buildings, equipment and electrical appliances would boost our energy performance in these sectors. Let’s hope that these improvements will show up in next year’s overview, since the État de l’énergie in Quebec report will become an annual reference.”

For more information, see the État de l’énergie au Québec – 2015 report, by Johanne Whitmore and Pierre-Olivier Pineau.

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