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Increase in solar 'inevitable', says Fitzgibbon

Natasha Kumar By Natasha Kumar Feb8,2024

“We will not have the choice of including solar in our energy offer”, believes the minister.

The increase in solar «inevitable  », according to Fitzgibbon

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Pierre Fitzgibbon, Quebec Minister of Economy, Innovation and Energy

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The Minister of Economy, Innovation and Energy of Quebec, Pierre Fitzgibbon, believes that the share of solar in the Quebec's energy cocktail is likely to increase in the coming years. The government could use part of the Green Fund to accelerate this transition.

It is clear that we will have to increase [use of] solar: there is practically none, recognizes the minister. I think it's inevitable. Now, is this going to be a major contribution? That remains to be seen.

A new study from Natural Resources Canada reveals that Quebec could produce 27 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity by installing solar panels on every viable roof in the province. This is a quarter of the additional needs estimated by Hydro-Québec if the province wants to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

These results give the minister pause, he admitted in an interview with Radio-Canada. Current subsidies do not encourage consumers to install solar panels on their roofs. Should we accelerate the adoption of solar panels? If so, we should be more subsidized.

Without moving forward on the creation of new subsidies, Pierre Fitzgibbon indicates that part of the Green Fund, which is used to finance projects to combat climate change, could be devoted to this sector.

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Over the past 20 years, the price of solar energy has fallen by 90% and the #x27;panel efficiency jumped by half.

Questioned by Liberal MP Gregory Kelley during the question period on Wednesday, Pierre Fitzgibbon announced that Hydro-Québec will, in the coming months, issue calls for tenders to study the feasibility of solar power, mainly in urban areas.< /p>

The official opposition energy critic believes that state intervention is necessary. We need to make solar panels more affordable. It shouldn't take 19 years to pay off but rather five to ten years, as we see in Calgary and Toronto.

A Radio-Canada analysis revealed Wednesday that it is in Montreal that the installation of solar panels takes the longest to pay off.

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The reason is simple: Quebec is the province where electricity prices are – by far – the lowest in the country . Residential customers pay an average of 9¢ per kilowatt hour (kWh), compared to about 30¢ per kWh in Alberta. This is also one of the reasons why Quebecers are the largest consumers of electricity in the country.

The Parti Québécois affirmed by email that it also supports decentralized renewable energy projects such as photovoltaic solar, in particular by considerably improving financial support for the Chauffez Vert, Rénoclimat and ÉcoPerformance programs.

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">Even if Québec solidaire (QS) is also in favor of the creation of new subsidies to encourage the installation of solar panels on roofs, this should not be the only tool used by the government, according to the spokesperson for this party in in terms of energy, Haroun Bouazzi.

We would find ourselves subsidizing only the upper middle class, as is the case with electric cars . But less well off people are those who spend the largest proportion of their income on electricity, since their homes are less well insulated.

The MP believes that it would be necessary to create an insulation chore and improve the heating capacity of the less fortunate, for example by changing a rotten electrical system for one heat pump.

We won't get out of this if we think that the only way to solve our problem is more dams, more wind turbines, more solar power, without working on energy consumption. ;on the other hand, adds Haroun Bouazzi.

To reduce household consumption, the solution does not consist of raising the price of electricity, according to QS. In any case, not for everyone. This party is thinking about ways to modulate prices, an operation which is not simple, according to Haroun Bouazzi. Should we adjust electricity rates based on the municipal assessment of the house? Should we simply increase prices for those who have a jacuzzi that works in winter, or a swimming pool?

Government will or not However, a general increase in the price of electricity awaits us, warns Minister Fitzgibbon, since the price of the most recent renewable energy production projects is much higher than that of electricity generated by dams built in the last century.

So what will happen? Who will pay for this? I think there will be an increase in service costs that everyone will have to absorb. We decided politically. Mr. Legault said it clearly: for the residential side, for the moment, it is a maximum of 3% per year. But we agree: in the future, it will rise to more than 3%, and that's everywhere in the world, not just in Quebec.

Moreover, in its net metering program, the price at which Hydro-Québec buys surplus electricity in order to inject it into its network is lower than that paid by consumers, which also does not favor the installation of solar panels in the province. The state-owned company, however, revealed to Radio-Canada by email that it is in the process of modifying its rates and its maximum threshold of 50 kWh, without wanting to specify whether it is increasing.

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  • Natasha Kumar

    By Natasha Kumar

    Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my 1-800-268-7116

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