Monthly Archives: January 2013

Nuclear Education Nuclear Outreach

Canada Wins Guiness World Record for Largest Science Lesson

We did it, Canada! On October 12, 2012, to kick off National Science & Technology Week, participants across the country got together at multiple locations to go out for the Guiness World Record for the largest practical science lesson.

TalkNUclear participated with the students at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT), one of Canada’s fastest-growing universities, by a group of 46 students all from the highly regarded Nuclear Engineering program.

Read about the science lession at UOIT here: National S&T Week Kicks Off With A Record Breaking Science Lesson


The largest practical science lesson at multiple venues involved 13,701 participants and was achieved by (Canada) at 88 locations across Canada, on 12 October 2012.

All lessons began at 1 pm EST and included 2 experiments which demonstrated Bernoulli’s Principle on air pressure.

Nuclear Energy Nuclear Pride Nuclear R&D Nuclear Safety

What Kind of Environmentalist Endorses Nuclear? An Informed and Realistic One.

There’s an interesting article on today called The Pro-Nukes Environmental Movement: After Fukushima, is nuclear energy still the best way to fight climate change?

The article says what we’ve been saying for a while: that while renewable energy sources such as wind and solar are part of a clean energy mix, they simply can’t meet the world’s growing energy demands in the next few decades without some unforeseen leap forward in grid-scale energy storage. When the wind isn’t blowing, when the sun isn’t shining, and when you don’t have a way to efficiently store huge amounts of power, where does the power come from? Unfortunately in many circumstances, that need is filled by burning fossil fuels like coal and gas.

Nuclear’s reliable base load power, combined with advances in electrifying our transportation systems, is the cleanest way to get off fossil fuels that are, as this article says, cooking the planet.

But the article does raise some concerns – the same concerns that are always raised when talking about nuclear power: capital cost and waste. It also mentions the nuclear renaissance, which, before Fukushima, was underway as the world was recognizing the opportunity for nuclear to help us quit coal and reduce emissions.

The article concludes by talking about “next generation” technology: reactors that are able to efficiently burn the used-fuel and include even more redundant safe guards (our backups have backups).

I asked our policy director, John Stewart, to touch on the cost issue and explain a bit about next generation technology: How far away is it and what’s the hold up?

Well, first, let’s point out that “current generation” nuclear power is already very good – especially when you’re looking at the carbon issue.  A technology with zero carbon emissions in today’s operation is still going to be at zero in its next generation.  If it’s carbon you’re concerned about, today’s nuclear technology is unbeatable. I’m abstracting, of course, from marginal improvements in the way we build or refuel the plants – we can use cleaner trucks to deliver the uranium fuel to the plant, or lower-carbon concrete technologies when we pour the foundation, but that’s about it.

The reactor “generations” you’re talking about is a classification system developed by the US Department of Energy and described in detail at  Reactor technology has been advancing just like technology in many other areas over the past three decades.  In cars or phones or computers, we’ve all been aware of those advances because everyone buys the results.  In nuclear, reactors are advancing but virtually nobody in North America has been buying the results.  The reactors we see are mostly older technology, dating back often to the seventies and eighties.  They work just fine, they’re safe, they’re clean, they’re very economical, but they do not reflect the state of the art, which is mostly being bought and built in places like China and India – or will be over the coming decade or two.

So the short answer about next generation technology is it’s not far away, and the hold up is just demand.  Regulatory processes aside, advanced reactor technology is available – it’s largely a matter of building it.


Conversations about cost have to be clear – are we talking about up-front capital investment, that is the plant construction cost, or are we talking about the average cost of generating a unit of power?  Nuclear’s record is very clear – it is one of the most affordable ways to get a unit of power in the long run.   It’s now selling for about six cents a kilowatt hour in Ontario, a real bargain especially considering how clean it is.  One of the main reasons is that the plants are so durable, lasting for fifty to sixty years.  When a capital asset is amortized over a period that long, capital costs can be very large and they still shrink in importance.  The unit cost of power over that six decades is very low. 

Nuclear Energy Nuclear Outreach Nuclear Pride

Groups Fighting Nuclear Energy and Advocating Industrial Wind and Solar are not Environmentalists!

This blog post by Rod Adams reminds me of the letter to the editor of the Hamilton Spec we wrote yesterday in response to an anti-nuclear attack by renewable energy lobbyists.

Some Environmentally Friendly Points About Nuclear:

  • Excluding hydroelectric, no other source of energy can produce so much clean, base load power at such sustained levels as nuclear.
  • Nuclear power is an integral part of the clean energy portfolio. Because nuclear power plants produce large amounts of continuous power, they enable the use of complementary renewable energy sources that are intermittent (such as wind and solar).
  • There are virtually no greenhouse gas emissions from our nuclear power plants so our industry does not contribute to climate change or smog.
  • Electricity currently generated by nuclear power facilities globally saves the potential emission of about 2.4 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases per year that would result from the same amount of electricity generated by fossil-based sources – equivalent to the emissions from all the cars in the Western Hemisphere..
  • The land footprint of a nuclear facility, such as Darlington (Canada’s second largest nuclear facility), is roughly the same as a shopping centre so it doesn’t disturb much of the surrounding environment compared with most other electricity sources.
I need to get another one of these mugs before the writing comes off completely.

Groups fighting nuclear energy and advocating industrial wind and solar are not environmentalists!

Rod Adams · January 8, 2013

I’m mad as hell and I don’t want to take it any more. Groups that fight any and all use of nuclear energy and also spend time advocating for the increased use of massive, industrial scale energy collectors on undeveloped, virgin land should NEVER be called “environmental groups”. I am not saying that the groups are full of bad people, I am saying that the “environmental” label is contradicted by the facts.

Read the whole post at Atomic Insights.


CNA Responds

Wind Attacks Nuclear, Gets Blown Away

By John Stewart
Director, Policy and Research
Canadian Nuclear Association

Chris Forrest is the vice-president of communications and public affairs at the Canadian Wind Energy Association. He wrote an op-ed that appeared in the Hamilton Spectator attacking nuclear on a variety of fronts. Here’s our response to the unnecessary and non-factual assault.

Chris Forrest’s attack on nuclear (“Wind Energy is a Better Deal for Ontario than New Nuclear,” Jan 4) is unnecessary and non-factual.

It’s unnecessary because Ontarians aren’t called upon to choose one energy source over another.   We use many diverse energy sources that support and complement each other.

It’s non-factual because Forrest says that “pricing on nuclear is very hard to find” but in the same breath that “it is broadly understood that electricity from new nuclear generation will be significantly more expensive” than the rate he claims for new wind.

If the data is so hard to find that he doesn’t cite any, what’s the basis for this alleged “broad understanding?”  Nuclear helped to build the affordable business environment that made Ontario so prosperous over the past half-century.

The 2011 Ontario Auditor General’s Report remarked that “Billions of dollars were committed to renewable energy without fully evaluating the impact, the trade-offs, and the alternatives through a compre¬hensive business-case analysis” (page 97). The report also cited Ministry of Energy and Ontario Energy Board projections that residential electricity bills will increase by 7.9% annually over the next five years primarily due to investments in renewable energy (page 89), resulting in a $570 increase in annual household electricity bills between 2009 and 2014 (page 95).

Nuclear power generation currently sells on average at around $.06 per kWh.  By providing this stable, affordable base, nuclear enables the grid to diversify into new sources like wind.

Advocates for wind energy are welcome to make their case without attacking other, good and proven options.

Nuclear Pride Uncategorized

A Look at the Women-in-Mining and -Nuclear Sask Networking Event

Great turn out at the WiM/WiN Networking Event
Member of WiM and WiN Saskatchewan get together to make connections and have fun.

Thanks to the Saskatchewan Geological Society (SGS), Women in Mining & Women in Nuclear Saskatchewan had a second successful networking event this year.  WIM/WiN-SK was recently launched in June of this year.  The SGS provided the room and advertising at the SGS annual conference.  More than 60 women attended the event which also saw an increase in memberships!  Thanks to all the sponsors who made the event so successful and to all the people who attended the event.