Last week we knew a big announcement would be made, but this morning the cat is out of the bag. Norway’s Renewable Energy Corp. said today it will build a solar silicon materials plant in Becancour, Quebec, and will invest at least $1.2 billion (Cdn) to do it. This is a huge announcement, and will create 300 jobs in the province. REC said it chose Quebec because it was able to negotiate a competitive 20-year electricity rate from the province. That, combined with the fact that a lion’s share of power production in Quebec is hydroelectric, sat well with REC. The company apparently was interested in lowering the carbon footprint of its energy-intensive business.
Good on Quebec for driving this deal through. According to REC, it spent 17 months screening more than 100 possible locations in 16 countries. It then narrowed the list to 40 sites before going through intense due diligence. Once a short list was established it engaged in final negotiations. Certain jurisdictions, like Iceland or Quebec, have an advantage over others because they are heavy on renewables — such as geothermal and hydroelectric — and aren’t subject to fuel price volatility. This means they can not only offer power for cheap, but can also offer a price that stays the same for 20 years.