Hydro-Québec and the Battery Industry | Quebec promises benefits; the opposition is worried

Hydro-Québec’s bid to persuade an ally to help it commercialize a new generation of batteries will come with “tangible benefits,” the Legault government promises, while the opposition fears a promising project could be caught between the fingers of the government province slips.

Posted yesterday at 7:00am

Julian Arsenal

Julian Arsenal
The press

After the revelations of The press With regard to the steps that the state-owned company has been taking worldwide for almost a year, Quebec has indicated that an agreement with a partner would be conditional.

“The process leading up to a possible alliance is underway and one of the priorities will be to ensure tangible benefits in Quebec,” Emmanuelle Ducharme, spokeswoman for Energy and Natural Resources Minister Jonatan Julien, said in an e-mail. Mail.

After working on a generation of solid electrolyte batteries, Hydro-Québec is looking for an ally to commercialize its research. The state-owned company calls it the “next big technological breakthrough” because it can significantly reduce the weight of this essential component of electric vehicles.

Last year, Société Générale, one of France’s largest banks, was hired by Hydro-Québec to solicit interest from stakeholders such as automakers, parts suppliers and battery manufacturers. No agreement has yet been reached.

“It’s not about selling our resources and know-how to foreign interests, it’s about accelerating research and increasing the chances of commercializing these innovations,” emphasizes Mr.me Some charm.

Hydro-Québec says it hired Société Générale’s services because of its “experience and… [son] Expertise in the field,” explained its spokesman Maxence Huard-Lefebvre.

Promises without details

However, Minister Julien’s spokesman gave no examples of “tangible benefits” when a partnership is formed. She spoke of “financial benefits” and the “creation of well-paid jobs”. The lack of details worries opposition parties in the National Assembly. The presentation viewed by The press does not mention any conditions to be met in the event of an agreement.

“When we look for financial partners, we have to set conditions,” emphasizes Sylvain Gaudreault, spokesman for the Parti Québécois for energy. Yes, we offer a lot of the product, but we want the partner to settle in Quebec and hire Quebecers. We need to use this research as leverage. »


PHOTO PAUL CHIASSON, THE CANADIAN PRESS

Sylvain Gaudreault, energy critic of the Parti Québécois

However, the MNA is pleased to note that Hydro-Québec’s goal is not to sell all of its research overseas.

A potential transaction could be similar to the one completed with Dana in 2018. The American automotive supplier had become the majority shareholder of TM4, a Quebec subsidiary of the state-owned company specializing in electric motors, in order to accelerate its growth.

“Considering that public money has been invested in the development of these batteries, the priority is that the spin-offs are Quebecois,” said Marc Tanguay, spokesman for energy and natural resources for the Quebec Liberal Party (PLQ). We must ensure that we protect our rights to any discovery. »

Mr. Tanguay incidentally regrets the “lack of transparency” of the process. He is surprised that Hydro-Québec’s goals have not been communicated more clearly. The MP understands that certain confidentiality clauses make it impossible to say everything, but he believes the Legault government and Crown Corporation could have presented the main lines of the trial publicly.

Learn more

  • 400 million
    This is the amount that has been fed into the Transport Electrification and Energy Storage Center of Excellence in Hydro-Québec since 2006.

    Source: General Society

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