Low rainfall forces Hydro to keep watch over its reservoirs

Present water reservoir ranges, which we imagine are notably low as a result of a traditionally dry summer season in Northern Quebec, may immediate Hydro-Québec to take particular actions to make sure the manufacturing of enough electrical energy for the winter.

Final week, the state-owned firm introduced that it had voluntarily decreased its electrical energy export actions in April, Might and June, primarily because of the low vitality costs in worldwide markets.

In an interview, affiliate professor {of electrical} engineering at McGill College François Bouffard informed the Journal that low water ranges in Hydro-Québec’s reservoirs may additionally clarify his choice to scale back exports final quarter.

“If it isn’t inconceivable, because the fires in the summertime counsel, that the water ranges within the basins are notably low and Hydro already makes the precautionary choice to construct up minimal water reserves to generate electrical energy that Quebec will want this winter.” ”

The attention on his tanks

When requested in regards to the challenge, Hydro-Quebec doesn’t deny having an eye fixed on its reservoirs. Whereas the autumn in vitality costs is the primary rationale behind this choice to decelerate exports, Hydro-Québec spokesman Maxence Huard-Lefebvre acknowledges that the extent of its reservoirs was additionally taken into consideration.

As we all know, the previous few months have been characterised by heavy rainfall in southern Quebec. But additionally in notably dry climate within the James Bay territories. A minimum of 15 million hectares – simply over a 3rd of the realm of ​​France – have already burned down.

Nonetheless, Hydro-Québec is reassuring. Maxence Arduous Lefebvre emphasizes: “There is no such thing as a want to fret.” Hydro’s finance vp was not solely happy in regards to the already decreased exports, but additionally about “multi-year reservoirs” that give him each “nice flexibility” in deciding whether or not to promote his Assets in addition to long-term provide safety of provide.

preserve ranges

Nonetheless, it’s at the moment inconceivable to know the precise stage of the “vitality reserves” of those reservoirs. This info “will probably be submitted to the Régie de l’énergie in September and will probably be revealed at the moment, as it’s yearly,” she replies.

On January 1, 2023, Hydro estimated its vitality manufacturing reserves at 133.2 terawatt hours (TWh). This was barely greater than the 129.4 TWh of January 2022, however lower than the five-year common reserves on the identical time (137.26 TWh).

Nonetheless, it’s nonetheless too early to attract conclusions about an annual improvement. [des niveaux d’eau]the Hydro spokesman argued, including that the autumn may additionally lead to vital water inflows.

“Long term, he says, projections associated to local weather change level to a 5-10% enhance in rainfall in northern Quebec, proper the place we now have our massive reservoirs.”

reverse situation

It’s price remembering that till just lately, Hydro-Québec was scuffling with extra manufacturing capability.

Bigger water inflows pressured the state-owned firm to both export extra electrical energy or let the water go to waste with out passing it by way of its generators, which was unavoidable for a number of years.

In 2019, Hydro-Québec misplaced 18 TWh, equal to $1 billion in export markets on the time. The yr earlier than, the corporate additionally struggled with tanks crammed to the brim and was pressured to dump the equal of 10 TWh.


Hydro-Quebec manages 27 reservoirs with a storage capability equal to 173 terawatt hours of electrical energy, or the electrical energy wants of Quebec for one yr. The biggest of those reservoirs are in James Bay, specifically Caniapiscau (4359 km2), La Grande 3 (2451 km2) and Robert-Bourassa (2905 km2).


Historical past of the state of Hydro’s “Power Stock”.

yr* in TWh

2023 133.2

2022 129.4

2021 154.9

2020 134.2

2019 134.6

2018 140.5

2017 138.3

2016 126.9

2015 103.7

2014 96.1

*From January 1st of every yr.

Supply: Hydro Quebec