Another example of cheap power economic development

Norwegian solar company Renewable Energy Corp. plans to build a silicon plant in Quebec, to take advantage of that province’s cheap and abundant electricity. REC, one of the world’s biggest manufacturers of silicon and wafers for solar power applications, will build the plant in Bécancour, just across the St. Lawrence river from Trois Rivières. Bécancour is also the home of the silicon plant run by Timminco Corp., the controversial Canadian company that claims to have created a revolutionary method of producing silicon for use in solar cells at very low cost. REC will eventually spend up to $1.2-billion (U.S.) on its plant, which will employ more than 300 people. Construction will start in 2010.

You know what is interesting? Last year I took a look at the legislation, regulation and annual reports associated with NB Power, HydroQuebec, Ontario Power Generation and a few others. Guess which utility has an explicit mandate to support economic development? I’ll give you a hint. It’s not NB Power.

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0 Responses to Another example of cheap power economic development

  1. Anonymous says:

    David, your last several posts are quality, thought-provoking ideas with excellent economic development aspects. I think you have presented more quality material in the last week than BNB has in the last 2 years!

    You are absolutely bang on with the thought that NB Power should have ED as a componment of their mandate. A huge opportunity was missed with the executive incentives/goals associated with the bonus.

    NB Power is our present day NB Tel. It could be the foundation of an ED building block/competitive advantage. However, we must get past the present political use as a way to isolate people from true global energy costs. This is bad for the economy and bad for the environment as well as a wasted opportunity.

    Why not mandate NB Power to deliver energy at rates compatable with the Canadian national average? A second component of the mandate should be ED cooperation/teamwork to attract opportunities such as the data centers you suggest. And don’t forget that it is not just cheap power that is attractive; stable,predictable pricing and reliable supply (just talk to Toronto black/brownout victims) is also critical.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Why do you think any company would chose quebec?
    You should look further for the reason.

    Solar Energy Firms Leave Waste Behind in China

    SLIDESHOW Previous Next
    “It’s poison air. Sometimes it gets so bad you can’t sit outside. You have to close all the doors and windows,” says Qiao Shi Peng, 28, shown in front of a dumping site in his village, who worries about his 1-year-old son’s health. (Zhang Quanfeng – Photo By Zhang Quanfeng)

    At left, cornfields in China’s Henan Province died after a green energy firm dumped industrial waste inside a nearby village. The liquid waste evaporated and left white powder. Tests of the soil where the dumping occurred showed high concentrations of chlorine and hydrochloric acid, which do not exist naturally. (Zhang Quanfeng – Photo By Zhang Quanfeng)

    (Photos By Zhang Quanfeng)

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    Who’s Blogging» Links to this article
    By Ariana Eunjung Cha
    Washington Post Foreign Service
    Sunday, March 9, 2008; Page A01

    GAOLONG, China — The first time Li Gengxuan saw the dump trucks from the nearby factory pull into his village, he couldn’t believe what happened. Stopping between the cornfields and the primary school playground, the workers dumped buckets of bubbling white liquid onto the ground. Then they turned around and drove right back through the gates of their compound without a word.

    This ritual has been going on almost every day for nine months, Li and other villagers said.

    In China, a country buckling with the breakneck pace of its industrial growth, such stories of environmental pollution are not uncommon. But the Luoyang Zhonggui High-Technology Co., here in the central plains of Henan Province near the Yellow River, stands out for one reason: It’s a green energy company, producing polysilicon destined for solar energy panels sold around the world. But the byproduct of polysilicon production — silicon tetrachloride — is a highly toxic substance that poses environmental hazards.

    “The land where you dump or bury it will be infertile. No grass or trees will grow in the place. . . . It is like dynamite — it is poisonous, it is polluting. Human beings can never touch it,” said Ren Bingyan, a professor at the School of Material Sciences at Hebei Industrial University.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Since chretien,Canada has NO RULES regarding corporations.
    Therefore the people are further ahead to stay behind,or go to Europe.sic

  4. Rob says:

    I’ll agree w/ the comment above, but Hydro-Québec is a much different type of beast than NB Power. NB Power is a fossil fuel driven company, producing 61% of its ~4 GW by burning fossil fuels. Hydro-Québec gets only ~4% of its ~40 GW from fossil fuels.

    We’re looking at increasing NB Power’s generating capacity by 16% by building another nuclear power plant. This increase will flow directly to Boston and New York, leaving nothing for NB. This will leave NB dependent on oil and natural gas for almost two-thirds of its electrical demand.

    How can we justify subsidizing electricity in NB when our main fuel is subject to severe cost volatility? This isn’t Québec, we can’t count on water’s tendency to fall. If we want NB Power to provide cheaper electricity, we need to find cheaper fuel. Any other solution to cutting the cost of electricity is completely artificial.