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Energy transition: One step at a time

March 20, 2024

Thanks to its hydropower, Quebec has an abundant source of clean, renewable energy. It provides local businesses with a significant competitive edge when it comes to environmental standards, but the grid has its limits. While the energy transition has become inevitable, it does open the door to new growth opportunities.  

ESG factors: More and more influential

Integrating environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors is becoming increasingly vital to a company's success. For example, some global companies only do business with suppliers who meet their strict ESG standards. For consumers, ESG factors are playing a growing role in their decision-making. ESG factors are impacting employer brands as well—the ongoing labour shortage has given many potential hires the freedom to choose an employer based on values they have in common.

"Whether they're clients or suppliers, every company is part of a value chain. Requirements are evolving: An SME that's lagging in their energy transition and slow to integrate ESG factors is at risk of becoming less appealing than competitors who are already taking action."

– Mathieu Talbot, Vice-President, Business Services Group and Corporate Banking

Considering new energy initiatives

Before they start thinking about diversifying their sources of energy, SMEs should first optimize their current processes and energy use. They can do this by modernizing their heating and ventilation systems, investing in cutting-edge technology that's more energy-efficient, and making simple, low-cost changes to their consumption habits, like turning down the heat when spaces are unoccupied. 

Although the transition to renewable energy sources is necessary, it must be done in steps. Many SMEs must still rely on more polluting energy sources for specific needs, like transport and generators. The idea is not to do it all at once, but to look to realistic actions, like adding electric vehicles to their fleets or going electric with some of their heating systems. 

Desjardins Business: Financing a balanced transition

Few SMEs can directly influence Quebec's hydro, wind and solar energy supply. That's why Desjardins is involved upstream, putting up the necessary capital and working with major players on meaningful large-scale projects to improve the variety and availability of renewables and promote the transition across the province's economy and to business owners.

"Our entrepreneurs are working hard to diversify their sources of income and supply and to become more resilient. It's the same with Quebec's energy portfolio. We're investing in the diversification of renewable energy sources because we know it plays an essential role in solidifying our economy for the long term."

– Mathieu Talbot, Vice-President, Business Services Group and Corporate Banking

Apuiat wind farm

Desjardins orchestrated $608 million in financing for the North Shore's Apuiat wind farm, which will supply the equivalent of 40,000 homes with clean electricity.

Read the press release

Alliance de l’énergie de l’Est

Innovative financing by Desjardins will allow this coalition of 209 municipal and Indigenous governments to invest in renewable energy projects and qualify for requests for proposals from Hydro-Québec.

Read the press release

Champlain Hudson Power Express

Desjardins is co-leading the financing of this 545-kilometre transmission line, which will meet 20% of New York City's power needs.

Learn more about this project

Invenergy solar farms

Also in the US, Desjardins is currently financing a pair of Invenergy projects boasting a combined capacity of 500 megawatts.

Visit Invenergy's website

Support from a specialized team

From major projects to SMEs, Desjardins Business is driven by a desire to provide positive leadership in responsible finance. Desjardins Business's support targets companies' business needs and objectives while helping to identify the most promising energy transition and ESG integration projects based on individual realities, and then seeking the right financing vehicles.

"Talk to your account manager about integrating ESG factors. Ask questions and learn about various ways to go about it that are accessible and adapted to your reality, so you can protect your competitiveness."

– Mathieu Talbot, Vice-President, Business Services Group and Corporate Banking