A constant energy source that can be adjusted to meet changing demandHydropower is a constant, permanently available energy source that guarantees reliable supply. Thanks to its storage capacities, a reservoir generating station can provide an instant response to changes in demand. At peak periods, hydropower generation can be adjusted almost in real time. In comparison, it can take approximately 12 hours to start up a coal-fired power plant.
A sure energy reserveEnergy security is a top priority for Hydro-Québec. To fulfill its commitments on the domestic market and its long-term supply contracts outside the province, the company maintains a sufficient energy reserve to offset a natural inflow deficit equivalent to 64 TWh over two consecutive years and 98 TWh over four consecutive years. It also keeps a capacity reserve approximately 8 % higher than its contractual commitments, in accordance with the industry's reliability criteria.
The most stringent reliability standardsThe engineering and construction quality of Hydro-Québec’s generating fleet has provided a model for the industry for 50 years. The company makes substantial investments to maintain and upgrade its facilities. In 2012, $560 million was invested in the refurbishment and refitting of generating stations.
Recognized worldwide for the reliability of its transmission system, Hydro-Québec takes every possible measure to remain a benchmark in this regard. In 2012, Hydro-Québec TransÉnergie invested $1.4 billion in its transmission facilities.
Hydro-Québec operates its system by meeting the most stringent reliability standards, in accordance with the criteria of the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) and the Northeast Power Coordinating Council (NPCC).
Facilities on the leading edge of technologyTo carry out its infrastructure projects, which often present considerable technical and logistical complexity, Hydro-Québec applies the latest methods and technologies along with great innovative ability. The company holds 850 patents, including some 500 for battery materials, and 125 active licences. It conducts innovation projects in collaboration with its business units and research institute (IREQ) as well as various university and industry partners.
A number of initiatives are under way to optimize the company’s generating assets in order to improve all aspects of their performance, with a view to sustainability. These include the LIBAR project, which has developed a set of tools and technologies to detect water infiltration in dams. Another project is designed to test the feasibility and performance of a waterproof membrane for new or existing retaining structures.
Hydro-Québec’s technological innovation efforts have made the company a world benchmark for the design, operation and maintenance of large transmission systems. For example, to increase system reliability and security, IREQ has developed the LineScout, a robotic device able to inspect high-voltage transmission lines over long distances. Hydro-Québec worked actively with the British Columbia Transmission Corporation (BCTC), which is now part of BC Hydro, to test the LineScout on a transmission line that crosses an ocean inlet in the Vancouver area. The 3-kilometre (2-mile) line was inspected before the 2010 Olympics to ensure the reliability and security of the area’s power supply. Hydro-Québec and BCTC earned the 2010 Edison Award for the LineScout technology. This international award, which recognizes outstanding leadership, innovation and exceptional contributions to the advancement of the power industry, is the electric utility industry’s highest honor.
For other examples of innovations, see the Technological Innovations capsule.
LineScout: Live-Line Inspection Robot