Announced twice rather than once, the submarine link to connect the Magdalen Islands to the Hydro-Quebec network will ultimately not see the light of day.
“It’s no longer the preferred solution,” Hydro-Quebec spokesperson Cendrix Bouchard said of the $2 billion project.
In 2022, the second version of the submarine link initially proposed in 2018, and whose cost had risen in the range from 600 million to nearly 2 billion, was submitted to the Régie de l’énergie, which approved it. coldly received and demanded additional studies from the state corporation.
Hydro-Quebec continued the studies and then suspended the project, citing global supply difficulties that make the equipment “either unavailable or extremely expensive”, before stating that it was no longer the preferred solution.
The state-owned company now says it is studying other scenarios, without specifying which ones, which means that the 12,000 inhabitants of the Magdalen Islands will continue to consume fuel oil for lighting and heating their homes for several years to come. The archipelago was to be connected to the main Hydro-Québec network in 2027.
The thermal power plant that meets the energy needs of the Madelinots consumes 40 million liters of fuel oil per year and emits 125,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases annually. It is the most polluting stand-alone network in Hydro-Québec’s fleet and one of the most expensive, at around 20 cents per kilowatt-hour produced.
The 225-kilometre submarine link project between Gaspésie and the archipelago was presented as the best solution for decarbonizing electricity production and the one that had the strongest support from the population. It would have reduced GHG emissions on the Islands by more than 90%.
While waiting to find another solution for the decarbonization of the Islands’ electricity network, Hydro-Québec has accepted two wind projects, the first of 6 megawatts, in service since 2021, and a new 16 megawatt park will begin to produce electricity in 2025. The thermal power plant has a continuous capacity of 67 megawatts.
About ten buildings in the city will be connected and powered by solar panels, storage facilities and consumption management tools.
Ideally, this experience could be extended to make the Islands energy self-sufficient, according to the project manager on site, Luc Roby. “But there are limits to what you can do with wind and solar, because the Islands lack space,” he points out.
Before fixing its choice on an undersea cable, Hydro-Québec had examined other options, including the conversion of the thermal power plant from oil to natural gas and the installation of wind turbines at sea.