Category Archives: Statistics

Mining Nuclear Jobs Nuclear Pride Statistics

Cameco Named One of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers for 2014

By Romeo St-Martin
Digital Media Officer
Canadian Nuclear Association

Congratulations to Cameco.

For the fifth successive year, Cameco has been selected by the Globe and Mail as one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers for 2014.

The annual competition recognizes Canadian employers that have exceptional workplace diversity and inclusiveness programs.

“This award recognizes our long-standing track record in aboriginal and Métis employment,” said Tim Gitzel, Cameco’s president and CEO. “We are proud to be Canada’s leading industrial employer of aboriginal people and of the proactive approach we take to support career growth in this sector of our workforce.”

Here are some of the reasons why Cameco was recognized by the Globe:

  • Established a northern workforce strategy to focus on the recruitment of residents from northern Saskatchewan, of which a large percentage are Aboriginal – the strategy is managed by a dedicated team of employees who consult with Aboriginal leaders, local schools, community members and professionals on the creation of opportunities for residents as well as overall development of the northern community

Those of us in Canada’s nuclear industry already know it’s a great place to work, offering long-lasting, safe, well-trained and high-knowledge jobs to tens of thousands of Canadians. Cameco continues to set a great example that all Canadian businesses can admire and follow.

Messages Nuclear Pride Statistics

Happy International Women’s Day – March 8

According to the official website marking the day, International Women’s Day (IWD) “has been observed since in the early 1900’s, a time of great expansion and turbulence in the industrialized world that saw booming population growth and the rise of radical ideologies.” Today, IWD is recognized and celebrated in many different ways all around the world.

Read about IWD and how it’s evolved in the last 100+ years.

Did you know, women make up only a quarter of Canada’s electricity sector workforce? We learned this in November when Women-in-Nuclear Canada  and Skills Canada-Ontario launched their new position paper, “Women Working in the Skilled Trades and Technologies – Myths and Realities.”

Today’s statistics on women in the electricity sector demonstrate that we have an opportunity to maintain nuclear’s competitive advantage by becoming more proactive in attracting the best and brightest from the entire talent pool. Our industry needs skilled women working in trade and technology careers.

Read more about women working in skilled trades and the WiN/Skills Canada position paper on the TalkNUclear blog. CLICK HERE.

Women-in-Nuclear Canada is an organization made up of women (and men) from Canada’s nuclear industry and is celebrating IWD with some local events.

Celebrating Women, Inspiring Futures
WiN-Bruce and the Bruce Power Equity & Diversity Committee will be hosting a celebration, Celebrating Women, Inspiring Futures, for International Women’s Day on March 8, 2012 at 10:00 a.m. in the B10 Auditorium
[Read More…]

Int’l Women’s Day Speaker – Pembroke
International Women’s Day is a time to honour women who have touched us in our daily lives- our mothers, our sisters, our colleagues, our friends. It is celebrated on March 8th every year.
[Read More…]

Are you celebrating IWD? Please tell us how.

Happy International Women’s Day!

Nuclear Energy Statistics

Where is my Electricity Coming From at this Hour?

Checking in with the CNS’ chart of electricity production in Ontario:

Where is my Electricity Coming From at this Hour? (if I live in Ontario)

In the hour between 2:45pm and 3:45pm, thanks to nuclear power generation in Ontario, over 8,000 tonnes of CO2 was avoided. In fact, electricity currently generated by nuclear power plants in Canada saves the potential emission of approximetly 90 million tonnes of greenhouse gases per year that would result from the same amount of electricity generated by burning fossil fuels. Like, for example in Alberta where they don’t have nuclear power plants and instead rely on coal for 41% of their electricity.

Alberta Electricity Generation (As of May 24, 2011 2:30pm)
Nuclear Energy Nuclear Medicine Statistics

Nuclear Power Plants and Childhood Leukaemia–End of the Debate?

A common claim by opponents of nuclear power is that nuclear power plants are directly linked to higher rates of childhood leukemia. For example, Greenpeace frequently references such claims on their website and branded publications such as here, here, and here. It appears that in some cases, the research on which these claims are based has been misunderstood:

A good example is this 2010 Greenpeace story, quoting a report according to which a 2008 study published in the journal Radiation Protection Dosimetry supports the claim of increased cancer rates around nuclear power plants because of radioactive emissions from these facilities.

In fact, the study does no such thing. Instead, the authors note that childhood leukemia rates around nuclear power plants are generally not higher than elsewhere, with three notable exceptions: Sellafied and Dounreay in the UK, and Krümmel in Germany. But rather than attributing those slightly increased rates of childhood leukemia to radiation from these sites, the authors state that they find the hypothesis that cases of childhood leukemia may be linked to a yet unidentified infectious agent most convincing. After all, if radiation were the cause, then one would expect to find higher rates around most nuclear sites, not just 3 out of 49 in total.

Examples where anti-nuclear activists seem to have misread scientific studies on the effects of nuclear radiation abound, and are too numerous to detail in a single blog post. In too many cases, the studies say the polar opposite of what is claimed they say.

However, there is one prominent exception: the famous 2007 KiKK study (Epidemiologische Studie zu Kinderkrebs in der Umgebung von Kernkraftwerken). This study, sponsored by the German Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS), did indeed make the argument that

there is a correlation between the distance of the home from the nearest NPP [nuclear power plant] at the time of the diagnosis and the risk of developing cancer (or leukaemia) before the 5th birthday.

However, the authors of the study have been quite clear that they do not attribute these findings to radiation from the nuclear facilities:

This study is not able to state which biological risk factors could explain this relationship. (p. 19)

Furthermore,

Exposure to ionising radiation was not measured or modelled. (p. 19)

And

This study can not conclusively clarify whether confounders, selection or random influences play a role (…).

In 2008 the authors published a follow-up paper, where they confirm their findings, but once more point out that

The result was not to be expected under current radiation-epidemiological knowledge. Considering that there is no evidence of relevant accidents and that possible confounders could not be identified, the observed positive distance trend remains unexplained.

In short, they found something, but have no idea how to explain it.

To make the claim, as many in the anti-nuclear community have since done, that the KiKK study shows nuclear power plants are responsible for increased childhood leukaemia rates in their vicinity is simply not supported by the KiKK study itself.

But nonetheless, the findings were interesting enough for the German Commission for Radiation protection to do a systematic assessment of the KiKK study. Some of the findings were nothing short but astonishing. Apparently, it was found

an increased leukaemia risk for children who lived in areas in which nuclear power plants were planned but never built. (p. 29)

Even more surprisingly,

the risk was similar to that found in the vicinity of existing nuclear power plants. (p. 29)

Since nuclear power plants that have not yet been built can hardly pose a radiation risk to the public, the authors conclude that, maybe,

nuclear power plants may tend to be built in areas which, for reasons that have not yet been understood, have a higher risk of childhood leukaemia. (p. 29)

Why sites that would be good locations for nuclear power plants tend to be associated with higher rates of childhood leukemia will probably remain a scientific puzzle for years to come. One thing, however, seems to be clear: it’s not the nuclear power plants.

Researchers in other countries have come to the same conclusion. For example, the UK Committee on Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment (COMARE) has studied various aspects of radiation health effects since 1985, and published 14 comprehensive reports by now, including one on childhood leukaemia around nuclear power plants in Great Britain.

While stressing – with good reason – that it is necessary to continuously monitor for any possible negative health effects from nuclear power plants, the authors state unambiguously there is

no evidence that there is an increased risk of childhood leukaemia and other cancers in the vicinity of NPPs due to radiation effects.

As for Canada, the situation is no different: a systematic review of current data and scientific research by the Durham Region Health Department found that cancer rates around two of Canada’s major nuclear sites in Ontario

did not indicate a pattern to suggest that the Pickering NGS [nuclear generating station] and the Darlington NGS were causing health effects in the population.

It really couldn’t be any clearer: nuclear power plants in Canada, the UK, and Germany do not cause childhood leukaemia or other cancers.

Statistics

IPCC Finds Nuclear Emits Less CO2 than Solar Panels

The recent Special Report Renewable Energy Sources by the IPCC contains an interesting graph that shows nuclear energy emits less CO2 over its lifecycle than solar panels, and about as much as wind (on average). Unfortunately, the report  does not consider the viability of nuclear power to replace fossil fuels for generating electricity. Still – it’s good to see that the IPCC confirms what our own research has shown for quite some time: nuclear is among the cleanest sources of electricity. Maybe the next IPCC report will look at nuclear by itself?

Figure SPM.8. | Estimates of lifecycle GHG emissions (g CO2-eq / kWh) for broad categories of
electricity generation technologies, plus some technologies integrated with CCS.

You can access the entire IPCC report here.

Nuclear Education Nuclear Energy Statistics

Comparing Wind and Nuclear in Terms of Space

One of the reasons I support nuclear power is that it seems to require relatively little space to generate a huge amount of power. Some of Canada’s most powerful reactors can produce up to 881MW (electricity), or 7,717,560,000 kw/h annually. That’s enough to power about 643,000 households 24/7 (Average household consumption in Ontario is about 12,000 kw/h annually).

The Darlington nuclear power station – which has 4 such reactors – is about as big as one of the shopping malls in Whitby, ON (including the parking lots). Not bad, considering the plant produces power for up to 2.5 Million households, day in, day out.

imageimage

Based on that alone, I always thought that nuclear power would be a pretty good option for replacing much of the electricity currently produced globally by burning coal and gas.

But, a recent story published at PhysOrg.com suggests that, according to a study written by Derek Abbott (a professor at the University of Adelaide), it would be impossible for nuclear energy to supply the entire global demand for energy because all these nuclear plants would take up far too much space.

Abbott addresses other factors,  too, but for the time being, I’ll just focus on the question on size.

I haven’t read the actual study, since it is not yet published (but will be soon in the Proceedings of the IEEE), so I have to go by what the reporter says about Professor Abbott’s findings.

Abbott estimates that

One nuclear reactor plant requires about 20.5 km2 (7.9 mi2) of land to accommodate the nuclear power station itself, its exclusion zone, its enrichment plant, ore processing, and supporting infrastructure.

I’m not entirely sure where he got this number from (I suspect the final article will provide the sources), but it seems he does not allow for multiple reactors on a single site.

The Darlington plant, for example, is a little less than 2 km long (including the parking lot), and roughly 800m or so across. That’s just about 1.6 km2, though my method of measuring that is – admittedly – a little crude. However, there are no less than 4 reactors at that site alone. Even after OPG is done adding another two, the site is not going to get much bigger.

image

Be that as it may, I will – just for the sake of argument – accept Abbott’s numbers for the time being.

Professor Abbott then calculates how many nuclear reactors it would take to supply the entire global energy demand of 15 Terawatt by generously assuming that each nuclear reactor can supply 1GW (e). That makes for easy math, and results in no less than 15,000 reactors globally. At 20.5 km2 each, the resulting space requirement is 307,500km2 – just a little less than Poland, or a little bit more than Italy.

That does, indeed, seem like a lot – all of Poland or Italy covered end-to-end in nuclear reactors, supporting facilities, fuel manufacturing plants, etc. etc. to supply the entire global energy demand (that is, all the power currently provided by fossil fuels, hydro electricity, nuclear , and other sources combined).

But how would that compare to other sources of energy under the same assumptions? While Prof. Abbott appears to like solar best, I’m going to do it for wind – simply because I have spent more time analyzing the spatial requirements for wind (mostly because wind power is the only low-carbon, non-hydro, source of electricity cost-competitive with nuclear).

Calculating the space requirements for wind is tricky business. The actual footprint of a wind turbine is not that much: if one includes the swept area, it’s anywhere from .2 – 2 acres (based on data from Enercon, and a little basic geometry. For those who want to dig deeper, the NREL has some good information on this).

Let’s assume we are going to use Enercon’s E101 turbine, which has a nominal capacity of 3,000 kW. Let’s further assume that we can expect an average output is about 25% of rated capacity ( though some studies indicate it is much less, and may be as low as 21%). The turbine has a diameter of 101m – or 331.4 ft – and therefore sweeps an area of about 1.98 acres. Since turbines need to be spaced several times their diameter apart, let’s assume we space them about 10x their diameter apart on average over a perfectly even plane, with nothing breaking the pattern (as I did with the nuclear plants above).

How big would a wind farm with such an arrangement have to be to generate 15TW of electricity?

16,023,693 km2 – a little less than the entire territory of Russia. Or about twice the size of Australia.

imageimage

Or Canada and Greenland with a chunk of the US:

image

Even if we reduce the distance between the wind turbines to just 5x their diameter, we’d still end up with a space requirement of 4,005,923 km2 – 22% bigger than India.

image

What about a bigger turbine, like Enercon’s E126, rated at 7,500 kW a piece (spaced 10x diameter)?

Well, that would require 25,335,374 km2more than Russia and Australia combined.

imageimage

If spaced only 5x diameter, it would still require 6,333,843 km2 – almost twice the size of India.

imageimage

[The reason is that the E126 has a diameter of 127m, which results in much greater space requirements even though the output is that much greater than the smaller turbine].

But this would just be the size of the wind farm itself. It would NOT include:

  • all the infrastructure needed to supply the farms
  • all the land lost to mining for the materials from which to build the turbines
  • all the land needed for the manufacturing facilities
  • the housing for all the people who will have to work continuously to maintain the wind farm.

These numbers also assume that

  • no wind turbine will ever fail (because that would reduce the average output),
  • electricity can be stored without any loss of power (because sometimes the wind blows just right, and sometimes not so much – or too much -, and the surplus energy from when it blows just right has to be stored to make up for the other times),
  • electricity can be transmitted without any loss of power (which won’t be the case until we figure out cheap super-conductivity).

So, the space requirements I calculated significantly underestimate the territory required for wind farms, if we wanted to supply all global energy needs with wind alone, while Prof. Abbott’s calculations for the nuclear power seem to significantly overestimate the territory required.

While I admit that supplying all the world’s energy exclusively from nuclear would be a stupendous task, it pales before the challenges of trying to supply it with wind (the only other cost-effective low-carbon, non-hydro source of power).