Hydro has already signed a license agreement with a Chinese company

Hydro-Quebec already signed an agreement to license its lithium battery technology to China’s Dongshi Kingpower, under Philippe Couillard in 2018, but the project never materialized due to lack of funding.

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On January 22, 2018, on the second day of his economic mission to China, Philippe Couillard praised this agreement between the Center of Excellence in Transportation Electrification and Energy Storage of Hydro-Québec (CEETSE) and Jilin Province Dongshi Kingpower Science and Technology Co.Ltd.

“This is CEETSE’s first agreement to commercialize second-generation technology with an industrial company,” read the press release issued by his firm.

At the time, we even planned to have a pilot production line at the Kingpower plant in collaboration with Hydro-Québec.

The signing of the licensing agreement covered solid electrolyte lithium battery patents for batteries in the Chinese automotive market.

“The signing of this license agreement will allow a technology created in Quebec to promote the electrification of transportation while taking advantage of the rapid growth of this sector in China,” said Karim Zaghib.

Yesterday, however, Hydro-Québec indicated to the Log that the deal never materialized, as the company failed to secure its financing.

Sensitive infrastructure

For Margaret McCuaig-Johnston, former vice-president of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), we must be careful with Hydro because its energy installations are “sensitive”.

“Article 7 of China’s National Intelligence Law of 2017 states that, if asked, Chinese individuals and organizations, including businesses, must spy on behalf of Chinese agencies and keep such espionage secret – and if they are caught, the Chinese state will support them,” she stresses.

While Ottawa has just ordered Chinese firms to restrict their participation in strategic minerals, Daniel Breton, big boss of Electric Mobility Canada (MEC), evokes “national security” issues.

“Canada is beginning to understand the importance of resource control and research. You have to be extremely careful because there are national security issues,” he warned.

Energy storage

In his strategy launched in 2014, the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, had already identified key sectors of the economy, such as electrical storage, recalls Guy Saint-Jacques, former Canadian ambassador to China.

“To store energy from intermittent sources, you need batteries. These are important findings. Hydro-Québec has global expertise,” he explained.

According to him, we can draw a parallel between the abrupt end of the Canadian giant Nortel, marked by suspicions of espionage, which subsequently coincided with the birth of the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei.

Today, he hopes that we do not play in the same film with the Quebec battery industry, dear to the Legault government.

“Knowing China’s appetite for these technologies, we must be vigilant everywhere in companies and in universities,” he pleaded.

Invited to react to new accusations of espionage by a former employee of the state-owned company, unveiled on Monday, the Consulate General of China in Montreal wanted to recall its mission.

“Taking into consideration the protection of the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens, the Consulate General provides consular services to Chinese citizens residing in its consular district in accordance with international law and Chinese and Canadian legislation as well as within its scope of competence,” said we said.

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