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The Chair in Energy Sector Management publishes État de l’énergie au Québec 2016

December 9, 2015

The HEC Montréal Chair in Energy Sector Management today published its second overview of the state of energy in Quebec, État de l’énergie au Québec, to shed more light on this sector.

“In the current context of new energy policies and efforts to counter climate change, it is disturbing to see that governments have done nothing to improve energy statistics,” laments Professor Pierre-Olivier Pineau, the Chairholder. “We have to say that there is a terrible shortage of this data, so essential for proper decision making, in Quebec. The lack of overall, structured access to energy data can limit our understanding of the sector and hinder decision making on the issues facing us.”

For instance, to reduce our dependence on oil, which meets 51% of our energy needs, should we be emphasizing electric vehicles or rethinking transportation entirely? “Over the past 20 years,” says Professor Pineau, “the number of vehicles in Quebec has increased by 45%, while the population has grown by only 16%. To make proper decisions, we need to have this kind of data available to put these issues in perspective.”

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 2015, but also looks at what the future holds for 2016. The Chair has also included an innovative tool for visualizing the entire energy system in Quebec and evaluating its efficiency. Data on greenhouse gas (GG) emissions, Quebec targets and carbon emissions trading are also discussed, to give readers a better understanding of the background to the Paris conference on climate change.

Some surprising results:

  • Total energy consumption in Quebec rose by 10.6% from 1995 to 2013.
  • The average weight of personal vehicles increased by 18% between 1997 and 2014, while the total weight of goods carried by heavy trucks more than doubled from 1990 to 2012. This growth pushed up demand for fuel and GG emissions related to the transportation sector.
  • According to data for the period from 1990 to 2012, not only did the number of housing units occupied per 1,000 inhabitants rise from 366 to 420, but the average size of homes grew by 17%, wiping out almost all the efficiency gains in this sector.
  • Quebec currently imports 100% of the fossil fuels used and refined in the province. In 2015, over half of its crude oil imports were from the United States.
  • In 2013, Quebec households spent nearly $15 billion directly on energy, but nearly double that amount simply for personal transportation.
  • In 2013, over 50% of total energy in Quebec was wasted and represented no value added to the economy. The potential for energy efficiency savings is 22% for electricity and 13% for natural gas.
  • The challenge when it comes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions is enormous: we have to cut over 2 Mt of CO2 equivalent per year, every year between now and 2020 – something Quebec has never managed to do.
  • By 2050, if we want to maintain our current use of natural gas, we will have to completely stop using oil for energy purposes.

“2016 will mark a new departure in energy: a new energy policy, the final report of the strategic environmental assessment on hydrocarbons, a new Canadian policy on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and a new global approach to combatting climate change,” says Professor Pineau. “We have some immense challenges to address and we have the means to do so, but there are some major gaps in the data and the action plans for reversing these worrisome trends. A more strategic approach to managing energy resources would allow us to draw on our tremendous potential, an excellent prospect in these difficult economic times.”

« 2016 sera une année de nouveau départ en énergie : nouvelle politique énergétique, rapport final de l’évaluation environnementale stratégique sur les hydrocarbures, nouvelle politique canadienne de réduction d’émission de gaz à effet de serre et nouvelle approche mondiale dans la lutte contre les changements climatiques, résume le professeur Pineau. Nous avons de grands défis à relever et nous avons les moyens de le faire, mais il y a des lacunes importantes dans les données et les plans d’action pour redresser des tendances problématiques. Une approche plus stratégique et systémique dans la gestion des ressources énergétiques permettrait de tirer profit de notre grand potentiel, ce qui représente une excellente perspective en ces temps de rigueur économique. »

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