Sat. Feb 24th, 2024

Industrialists who have not obtained energy blocks are turning more and more towards self-production.

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A big wind turbine project for Rio Tinto, without Hydro-Québec< /p>Open in full screen mode

The Rio Tinto project plans to produce hundreds of megawatts using wind turbines in Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean.

  • Thomas Gerbet (View profile)Thomas Gerbet

Hydro-Québec's inability to supply electricity to all industrial projects is creating a craze for private self-production, outside the public network. Radio-Canada has learned that aluminum giant Rio Tinto wants to develop a large wind turbine park in Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean to meet its new needs. And he is not the only one to take this turn.

Several sources indicate that the Rio Tinto company wishes to generate hundreds of megawatts (MW), potentially between 700 and 1000 MW, thanks to wind turbines, since it did not obtain the famous energy blocks allocated by the Legault government.

According to our information, Rio Tinto employees recently installed devices to calculate the strength of the winds in the area of ​​its Chute-des-Passes dam.

Like the TES Canada project in Mauricie, which plans to produce 1000 MW with wind and solar energy for the needs of its hydrogen production, the fashion is for self-production among industrialists in search of megawatts.

The trend confirms the prophecy of the Minister of the Economy, Innovation and Development #x27;Energy, Pierre Fitzgibbon. Last November 11, in an email about self-production, he wrote: Wait and see what’s coming. This is just the beginning!

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The Minister of Economy, Innovation and Énergie du Québec, Pierre Fitzgibbon, predicted a craze for industrial self-production of electricity.

The Rio Tinto project is prepared with the collaboration of several regional county municipalities (MRC) of Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean and the Innu community of Mashteuiatsh.

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It's confidential, we can't talk about it, replied the prefect of the MRC of Fjord-du-Saguenay, Gérald Savard. On the Mashteuiatsh side, we mention the existence of a Rio Tinto project, but without wanting to comment further.

Without confirming or denying our information, the company admits to looking into renewable energy projects.

Rio Tinto is studying different options aimed at securing its supply of green energy in Quebec in order to support its growth and the decarbonization of its activities existing.

A quote from Simon Letendre, Rio Tinto Senior Director of Media Relations for Canada and the United States

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Sébastien Ross, executive director of Atlantic operations for Rio Tinto Aluminum, in March 2023.

Rio Tinto's wind project would not be foreign x27;arrival of Frenchman Jérôme Pécresse at the head of Rio Tinto's Alumium management in October. Previously, he was vice-president of the General Electric company, where he developed the renewable energy sector.

Rio Tinto is not in unfamiliar territory with wind turbines either. The multinational recently installed one in Madagascar, Africa, to supply one of the mines with clean electricity.

In December 2022, Rio Tinto signed a cultural and economic agreement with the Innu community of Mashteuiatsh, intended to mark a new era of partnership in different areas, including energy. Without mentioning wind power, the name of the agreement, in the Innu language, caught our attention: Kuessilueu, which means the wind turns.

Rio Tinto's production in Quebec requires an electrical power of 2,300 MW, approximately half of which is provided by its own hydroelectric plants, the most recent of which is 65 years old.

Our energy production capacity will not be sufficient, declared the executive director of Atlantic operations of Rio Tinto, Sébastien Ross, during a summit on aluminum in March 2023, speaking of development projects for the x27;green aluminum, like Elysis.

At that time, the aluminum giant hoped to obtain more power from the Hydro-Québec network, but so far, Rio Tinto is not among the beneficiaries of the megawatts, whose list has was revealed by Radio-Canada. By 2028, only 500 MW remain to be distributed by Minister Fitzgibbon.

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Rio Tinto wants to green its activities, to be carbon neutral, by tackling its gas consumption, but for this, it needs a lot of additional electricity.

The Legault government has been inundated with requests from industries, here and elsewhere, to obtain the precious blocks of energy, at the cheapest rate in North America. More than 150 companies have applied for a total of 30,000 megawatts, which is huge. For comparison, Hydro-Québec described its plan to increase its total production by 8,000 or 9,000 MW by 2035 as ambitious.

In a context where the state company is no longer able to meet this strong demand, projects risk being delayed or even canceled, the government had warned. The monopoly is broken […] the social contract is broken, testifies an industrialist from the wind industry. People want to develop.

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Jonathan Martel is president and founder of Teal, Chimie & Énergie.

We want things to move forward, explains the president of the company TEAL Chimie &amp ; Energy, Jonathan Martel, in an interview with Radio-Canada, so the only solution is self-production.

His company wants to produce green hydrogen and ammonia in Sept-Îles, on the North Shore. She had requested a 500 MW block in Quebec, but was refused. TEAL therefore revised its request downward. Today, it only requires 150 MW from the public network and intends to produce the rest itself.

We are even encouraged by Hydro-Québec and the government. […] Everyone is being encouraged to consider that.

A quote from Jonathan Martel, president of TEAL Chimie & Energy

According to the government and the state company (New window), the law allows the self-production of electricity provided that it is only for the company's account and that it uses its own transport network.

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A green hydrogen production project will see the light of day in Shawinigan, thanks to a large part of self-produced electricity.< /p>

We hope that other similar projects will take shape, Minister Fitzgibbon's office also declared in November about TES Canada.

< p class="Text-sc-2357a233-1 imohSo">It is not only permitted, it is desirable. So, I encourage businesses to copy the TES Canada model.

A quote from Pierre Fitzgibbon, Minister of the Economy, Innovation and Energy, November 30 2023

In November, TEAL Chemistry & Energy has signed an agreement with an American company which will develop its renewable energy project. Its president said he had noticed the same interest in self-production with everyone we spoke with, in all industries.

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The North Shore attracts companies interested in the self-production of electricity by wind turbines.

Another company, H2 Green Steel, which wants to set up a steelworks powered by green hydrogen in Sept-Îles, is struggling with its own energy needs. The project would require up to 1,700 megawatts (MW), more than the Romaine complex.

The company therefore intends to produce a part of its electricity to meet its needs, like the TES Canada green hydrogen plant in Shawinigan. Using wind power, H2 Green Steel plans to produce between 1,500 and 2,000 MW, something massive, according to project manager Patrick Tobin.

In Baie-Comeau, still on the North Shore, another Swedish company, Universal H2 (UH2), wants to set up a green hydrogen and ammonia plant. The first phase will require 120 megawatts (MW) of electricity, almost half of which would be produced by the company itself.

Analyst Jean-Pierre Finet, from the Regroupement des organisms Environnemental en Énergie, is not very happy to hear about all these self-production projects. He fears an epidemic.

If the 30,000 MW of unmet industrial demands at today are all starting to self-produce as TES Canada does, it is the equivalent of 30 TES which could monopolize the best, most advantageous natural resources.

A quote from Jean-Pierre Finet, analyst at the Regroupement des energy environmental organizations

According to this expert, these industrial self-producers will thus benefit from a holiday from contributing to the decarbonization effort that the rest of the customers will have to assume through the tariffs.

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Rio Tinto's Chute-des-Passes dam, in Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean, near which wind turbines could be erected.

Rio Tinto already enjoys a historic advantage with its own dams which allow it to meet half of its electricity needs, at a cost four times lower than the rate negotiated with Hydro-Québec.

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