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Portrait of energy efficiency in Quebec businesses

Current efforts are not enough to meet the Quebec government’s targets for 2030

September 7, 2016

The targets set by the government cannot be met if current trends continue. That is the conclusion of the analysis of energy efficiency programs, energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by industry subsectors, in the portrait of energy efficiency in Quebec businesses, just released by the Chair in Energy Sector Management, in co-operation with the e3 Hub at HEC Montréal.

The government has set energy efficiency targets for 2030, but they largely apply to industry. In fact, 66 % of the energy used in Quebec is for industrial, commercial and institutional purposes.

Financial aid programs for energy efficiency and innovation are among the main tools available to businesses to encourage them to manage their energy consumption. The study points to a lack of interdepartmental co-ordination, however, which makes for inconsistency in applying these programs.

“We found that the lack of an integrated data collection system on energy efficiency programs for Quebec firms is a limiting factor in decision making and implementation of the 2030 Energy Policy,” says Professor Pierre-Olivier Pineau, the Chairholder.

Some subsectors that are huge energy users and greenhouse gas producers have not always been best served by these grants, according to the study. The clearest example is that of commercial transportation, which has received a very small share of the grants, although it is the sector that poses the greatest challenges. Energy consumption related to commercial transportation (freight and passengers) rose by 63% between 1990 and 2013.

“New approaches are needed if we are to achieve economies of scale in energy by 2030,” Professor Pineau notes. “The government will have to review the governance of energy efficiency to make sure that its energy management, economic development and greenhouse gas reduction programs are all co-ordinated.”

According to the study, the new governance approach should prioritize those subsectors that would benefit the most from strategic energy management in economic and environmental terms. These include commercial transportation, some highly energy-intensive industries, and buildings that consume the most energy. To reduce the cost of energy efficiency projects for many small and medium-sized businesses, the government should focus on groups and common approaches.