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Impoundment of hydroelectric reservoirs induces decomposition of a small fraction of the flooded biomass (forests, peatlands and other soil types) and an increase in the aquatic wildlife and vegetation in the reservoir.
The result is higher greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions after impoundment, mainly CO2 (carbon dioxide) and a small amount of CH4 (methane).
However, these emissions are temporary and peak two to four years after the reservoir is filled.
During the ensuing decade, CO2 emissions gradually diminish and return to the levels given off by neighboring lakes and rivers.
Hydropower generation, on average, emits one-thirty-fifth of the GHGs that a natural gas generating station does and about one-seventieth the GHGs that a coal-fired generating station does.
Many years ago, Hydro-Québec decided to make use of the province's water resources to meet the demand for electricity. This policy has contributed greatly to Québec's excellent record on greenhouse gas emissions.
In partnership with universities, research centres and other electric utilities, Hydro-Québec has conducted an extensive greenhouse gas research program since 1993.
This book is available for consultation at the Environment Documentation Centre.
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