Even if he expects to be “harassed” by the major players in the aerospace industry on this subject, the Minister for the Economy and Energy, Pierre Fitzgibbon, has yet to be convinced on the relevance of granting energy blocks for the development of sustainable fuel projects in the aviation sector.
Questioned on the subject Friday by the president of the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal, Michel Leblanc, the minister said that the answer was “complicated”. He expects to be “harassed” by the big players in the industry on the subject during the next Paris Air Show in June. “We don’t say no, but…”
Called to clarify his position after the conference, Mr. Fitzgibbon admitted, in a scrum, that he still had to make up his mind on the subject. “We haven’t decided yet,” he replies.
“FAS [carburant durable], it’s a bit like hydrogen. It takes hydrogen to make SAF. You have to be careful because the energy capacity [du Québec] is limited. »
The Legault government wants hydrogen projects to have a use in Quebec. However, this seems unlikely with sustainable fuel for planes that would make international connections, explains the minister.
Sustainable fuel is produced by capturing CO2 large industrial emitters, which is then synthesized with renewable hydrogen.
In a broader context, Mr. Fitzgibbon reminded that the government will have to make choices, because the energy block requests for industrial projects exceed the energy capacity of Hydro-Québec.
His ministry will analyze a first list of 23 projects in June for a block of 3200 megawatts (MW) “We will decide at the beginning of July, for which we say ‘yes’, ‘no’ or ‘no, but’…”
A “social project”
In Montreal, the SAF+ Consortium is trying to secure an energy block of “over” 300 MW for a plant that would produce 100 million liters of sustainable fuel in 2028. The consortium counts Air Transat and Airbus among its partners.
Despite the minister’s hesitations, the president and general manager of Consortium SAF +, Jean Paquin, believes that his project is “aligned” with the objectives of the Legault government.
He points out that the carbon footprint of his sustainable fuel will be 92% lower than conventional fuel. A pilot plant is already in operation in the east end of Montreal.
“The Minister has always emphasized the need to make the energy transition in Quebec by decarbonizing the transportation industries. Aviation is an important hub in Quebec. […] You have to understand that in aviation, there is no other solution than SAF. »
Even if the planes that will consume sustainable fuel will probably leave Quebec’s airspace, the project has local benefits by making Montreal an attractive hub for air transport, argues Mr. Paquin.
“The planes that need to decarbonize are going to have to go to places where there is SAF available, so not only are there going to be planes leaving, but we’re going to have planes coming back and it’s all connected. to the economy and the local wealth that is created by air transport. »
Mr. Paquin does not know if his project is part of the list of 23 projects analyzed in June, because this list has not yet been made public. He points out, however, that the project is for 2028, which gives some flexibility to Hydro-Québec, which intends to increase its energy capacity by then. “The project is not for tomorrow. »