Working together for a successful energy transition

Published November 3, 2023 - 9:00 am
Last updated November 10, 2023 - 2:32 pm

On November 2, the Mayor of Saint-Laurent, Alan DeSousa, took the opportunity at his annual meeting with the Chambre de commerce et d’industrie de Saint-Laurent-Mont-Royal to launch a passionate plea to the business community regarding the creation of a large solar park project in Saint-Laurent.

Among other things, the Mayor underscored the fact that 70% of Saint-Laurent’s territory is dedicated to professional, retail, manufacturing and industrial activities, thus presenting a unique landscape in the Greater Montréal Region.

He then offered the reminder that back in 2019, this situation led to the roofs on Saint-Laurent businesses and parking lots being identified as the two main culprits responsible for the major urban heat island phenomenon experienced in Saint-Laurent.

In this respect, the Mayor summarized the actions already taken by the borough ever since this finding was reported to alleviate the situation by adopting a number of programs, bylaws and other initiatives relating to parking lots and roofs. These have generated numerous accolades in addition to creating a snowball effect in other communities.

Following this introduction, Mr. DeSousa presented the results of an assessment conducted in 2018 that estimated the net surface area of some 1400 industrial and commercial roofs capable of accommodating solar panels in Saint-Laurent at 4.5 million square metres, or the equivalent of 850 football fields.

Also in 2018, according to the Mayor, a study was conducted to evaluate the overall potential of industrial roofs in Saint-Laurent to produce 521 gigawatts-hours of energy, which is equivalent to the annual electricity consumption of 24,000 households.

To summarize, the study concluded that Saint-Laurent has tremendous solar photovoltaic and thermal potential, and it is an ideal location for the installation of solar setups on roofs, given that the buildings are the same elevation and there are few trees in the areas in question. The same study also revealed that the installation of solar equipment would enable certain buildings to achieve partial energy independence.

What’s more, Ville de Montréal receives 25% more sunshine than Paris, boasting an annual average of 2051 hours versus 1662 hours for the European city.

Mentioning previously cited examples such as green roofs, for instance on the Fermes Lufa greenhouses on boulevard de la Côte-Vertu and at IGA Duchemin on boulevard Henri-Bourassa, the Mayor urged the business community to consider the potential benefits of creating a collaborative project centered on solar energy, adding that several businesses have already begun experimentation in this respect.

The Mayor also explained the steps previously taken with Hydro-Québec executives a few years ago when the circumstances were less suited to this solution. Yet, the growing needs and current economic situation now place us at a much more favourable juncture, not to mention climate change, as was evidenced by the April 2023 ice storm. 

Accordingly, to satisfy the needs of Quebecers, serve its industrial clients and honour its export contracts, Hydro-Québec must increase its renewable energy production capacity by at least 50% by 2050.

Yet, following discussions between the Mayor and the crown corporation, and in a convergence of ideas, Hydro-Québec went ahead with the announcement of its 2022-2026 strategic plan that very morning at 11 a.m.

Citing the plan, the Mayor explained that it integrates a willingness to incorporate more solar and battery storage into the energy package and that these solutions will make a tremendous contribution to Quebec’s energy balance by complementing wind power and hydroelectricity.

Relying on collaboration to see this project take shape, the Mayor offered the example of the Éco-maillage program spearheaded by Excellence industrielle Saint-Laurent one year ago, in which several businesses are now involved to pool their resources and reduce costs. He also mentioned the Zone d’innovation en aéronautique, uniting three cities to work together, specifically Mirabel, Longueuil and Saint-Laurent.

Along the same lines, he mentioned that the pursuit of this solar park project could represent an excellent endeavour for the emergence of an urban solar segment in Quebec, while emphasizing that solar is just one of the solutions that can be developed on-site when it comes to renewable energy – and one that could also include the recovery of waste heat, cooling and geothermic.

To bring the project to fruition, he offered the reminder that Excellence industrielle Saint-Laurent produced a document explaining the two collective management hypotheses that could apply to its inception either via a collective organization including a public-private partnership, or through a solidarity cooperative or a mixed-ownership company.

The Mayor wrapped up his appeal extolling the project by reminding businesses that they are the owners of this tremendous energy potential and inviting anyone interested to contact the organization.

At the same time, an interview with Alan DeSousa, Mayor of Saint-Laurent, including highlights of the conference, appeared on the La Presse website. Click here to read it (in French).

Read the press release (in French) of the Chambre de commerce et d’industrie de Saint-Laurent-Mont-Royal.


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