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Hydro-Qubec defends reservoirs

The giant utility Hydro-Québec issued a press release in April defending hydropower as an "environmentally sound power source."


The giant utility Hydro-Québec issued a press release in April defending hydropower as an “environmentally sound power source.”

The statement was made in response to an article in the Montreal Gazette entitled “Hydro power’s dirty side.”

The utility said contrary to the claims in the Gazette, large amounts of methane emissions are not an issue in Quebec because the province’s reservoirs are in boreal regions and therefore the water is cold, and is regularly remixed and re-oxygenated. More oxygen in the water means less methane is emitted.

The Hydro-Québec statement went on to quote a large-scale scientific study, “Net Greenhouse Gas emissions at Eastmain 1 Reservoir, Quebec, Canada,” which involved 80 experts from the Université du Québec à Montréal, McGill University and Environnement Illuminé Inc. The study confirmed that “CH4 [methane] emissions are very small and represent less than 1% of total emissions.”

“Emissions from reservoir generating stations in Québec are comparable to those produced by wind generation and represent about a quarter of those from photovoltaic solar facilities, due to the manufacturing process involved. Compared with one of Hydro-Québec’s reservoir generating stations, a gas-fired power plant produces about 40 times more GHG emissions and a coal-fired plant about 100 times more.”


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