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The Hydro Quebec New York Partnership: Electricity Flowing From The North

The Champlain Hudson Power Energy Project's groundbreaking earlier this week in New York is a big deal for New Yorkers, providing enough energy for around 1.5 million New York households.

This project will lay 330 miles of transmission lines between Quebec and New York City, including submarine cables under Lake Champlain and The Hudson River. It's expected to be completed in 2025 and will deliver 18 Terawatt Hours to downstate New York. That's around 4X more energy than is produced by the much more well-known Hoover Dam, out west.

From a renewable energy perspective, New York State is situated in a great spot, with access to deep ocean waters, where offshore wind turbines will be increasingly important in the years to come, and a roughly 100-mile-long border with Quebec, one of the most water-rich areas in the world.

The offshore wind turbines will provide a more robust long-term solution. In comparison, the hydroelectric energy transmitted by The Champlain Hudson Power Energy Project will provide better solutions for the "the now", second half of this decade, a period of time when electrification initiatives will gain momentum and natural gas usage will still be increasing in New York State.

In addition to all of the electrification initiatives underway, New York State really needs the boost in clean energy supply "pronto" since it has to find electricity sources to replace the 16 TWh of annual electricity The Indian Point Nuclear facility provided to the downstate metro NYC area up until its closure in 2020.

All of New York City consumes around 55 million MWh of electricity, so removing a source of 16 TWh has made the state more reliant on natural gas this decade. Building the transmission lines necessary for Downtate / Metro NYC to access Hydro-Quebec's hydro-electricity supply will help to lower reliance on natural gas and buy the time necessary to get offshore wind projects off the coast of Long Island up & running.

The Department of Energy has a good explainer on how hydro electric electricity works.

“As energy is needed for power generation, water stored behind the dam flows through a penstock, or tunnel, to a turbine-driven generator below the dam. A turbine converts falling water into mechanical energy. The force of water on the turbine blades spins the turbines, which, in turn, drive a rotor, the moving part of a generator. The rotor contains coils of wire wound on an iron frame to create a strong magnetic field. As the rotor’s magnetic field sweeps past the generator’s stationary coil, it converts mechanical energy into electrical energy”

On an annual basis, Hydro-Quebec's reservoirs can store up to 176 Terawatt Hours of energy. To put 176 Terawatt hours in perspective, it is equal to:

  • Around 5% of the electrical consumption of the entire United States

  • Approximately 28% of all the electricity consumed in Canada

  • All of the annual electricity consumed in Quebec

  • It's 25% more electricity than is consumed in all of New York state

New York is only one client of Hydro-Quebec, a big one at that, with the 18 TWh The Champlain Hudson Project is expected to transmit equaling around 10% of the electricity Hydro-Quebec can store across all of it's reservoirs.

Here is an insightful story on how Hydro-Quebec's CEO, Sophie Brochu, won over New York state after years of efforts.


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