Tag Archives: Emissions

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Nuclear Main Source of Affordable Clean Electricity in Ontario

Greenpeace anti-nuclear campaigner, Shawn-Patrick Stensil, wrote a blog recently blaming nuclear energy for Ontario’s rising electricity rates. He referred to a small section (pp. 69-70) of a very complex and technical report by the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) that investigates the sources of something called “Global Adjustment” — which is not the same as “recent increases in your electricity bill.”

To better understand the costs of Ontario’s energy mix, plain and accessible information can be found in the provincial Auditor General’s latest report, which tells us:

“Billions of dollars were committed to renewable energy without fully evaluating the impact, the trade-offs, and the alternatives through a compre­hensive business-case analysis” (page 97).

“In November 2010, the Ministry [of Energy] forecast that a typical residential electricity bill would rise about 7.9% annually over the next five years, with 56% of the increase due to investments in renewable energy” (page 89).

“In April 2010, the OEB completed an analysis predicting that a typical household’s annual electricity bill will increase by about $570, or 46%, from about $1,250 in 2009 to more than $1,820 by 2014. More than half of this increase would be because of renewable energy contracts” (page 95).

And this is despite the far larger and more reliable role that nuclear plays, relative to renewables, in our power supply. Nuclear energy is an integral part of Ontario’s clean energy portfolio. And because nuclear energy facilities produce large amounts of continuous power, they enable the use of complementary renewable energy sources, like wind and solar. Without nuclear energy, this base load power would need to be supplied by burning carbon-emitting coal or gas.

The AG’s report also clarifies what role Global Adjustment plays in your electricity bill (see graphs on page 94).  It recommends that the Province should “increase consumer awareness of the concept of the Global Adjustment and make more information available on the cost impact of its major components,” a step that the Canadian Nuclear Association (CNA) and our members would welcome.

In fact, according to the OECD, Canadians pay the same or less for electricity from nuclear power compared to all other forms of electricity; and the overall cost to the consumer is similar to that of large-scale hydro, natural gas and coal, and much lower than wind and solar. Here’s a link to that report as well.

There’s a reason anti-nuclear activists tend to criticize nuclear energy based on cost rather than on environmental arguments about the technology itself. Critics know there are virtually no greenhouse gas emissions from our nuclear facilities and that nuclear does not contribute to climate change or smog. Carbon-cutting is at the top of all of our agendas and is an area where nuclear makes a valuable contribution to Canada’s status as a clean energy superpower.  Nuclear energy saves the potential emission of about 90 million tonnes of greenhouse gases per year that would result from the same amount of electricity generated by fossil-based sources. Many people may not realize that nuclear’s clean, base load power is enabling the province of Ontario to be coal-free by 2014 and provides the stable base needed to bring renewables onto the grid.

The CNA invites Canadians to read the Auditor General’s report and make an informed decision on energy costs. We also invite you to join the conversation on our TalkNUclear blog, Facebook and Twitter and ask us about the topics that are important to you. Our NU microsite NUnuclear.ca is an excellent tool that illustrates the role nuclear technology plays in our daily lives beyond power generation. From life-saving nuclear medicine to enabling materials safety, we depend on nuclear for much more than just keeping the lights on.

Thank you to Greenpeace for allowing us to address this issue and clarify the facts for Canadians.

Sincerely,

The Canadian Nuclear Association

Nuclear Energy Nuclear Outreach

Nuclear in the Oil Sands: Building On Canada’s Strengths

Canada has high-quality uranium deposits and a highly developed base of nuclear technologies, including power generation, medicine, food safety, mining and processing, and materials science – in all of which Canadians have done well, as innovators and as businesses.

That Canadian power reactor designs have been sold in six other countries — against substantial US, Japanese and European competition — is a remarkable technological and commercial success story, especially considering that they were developed and marketed independently by a small country, and only for civilian uses.  Management of this business has passed to Candu Energy Inc., and Canadians will soon see what private industry can do with this opportunity given the current nuclear revival, which is being led by emerging economies.

There are diverse examples of nuclear energy being used for process heat applications such as smelting minerals and desalinating seawater.   And today there are various new nuclear reactor technologies available or on the horizon (Generation III and IV reactors, small modular reactors and others) that promise to make nuclear power options even safer than they currently are, as well as easier to finance.

The development of the oil sands has repeatedly faced difficult technical and economic challenges.  While private industry was the main driver and investor, public sector actors played a significant role.  Backed by industry consensus and assisted by economic policy through such measures as royalty and tax adjustments, these public sector champions enabled the development of the oil industry that Canada has today:  our largest export earner and a huge wealth generator for the private and public sectors.

Capturing more of the value of this resource within the Canadian economy is of interest to many in policy circles.  So would be extracting the bitumen in ways that mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and conserve cleaner fossil fuels.  Among the options would be to apply nuclear power in place of natural gas to generate the heat needed for bitumen extraction.   While innovators in the oil sands industry are aware of the long-term possibilities of nuclear, for the most part they are currently occupied with closer-to-deployment technical advances.

Currently deployed reactor designs would not be easy to apply to bitumen extraction in the oil sands.  They require large, permanent installations with large support staffs.  Even with these challenges, however, nuclear appeared in a 2003 study by the Canadian Energy Research Institute  to be approximately competitive with natural gas in in-situ applications.

Newer reactor designs such as the Enhanced CANDU 6, the Advanced CANDU Reactor (ACR-1000), and other so-called Generation 3 and 4 reactors, some of which are close to deployment but have not yet established multi-year track records in operation, will further advance the safety of nuclear energy and could substantially improve its economics.  Also, several small modular reactor (SMR) designs are being promoted – in varying degrees of proximity to deployment – with promises of further reductions in the financing, building and maintenance costs of nuclear energy, improving its applicability to non-power uses.  These promised advances are mainly based on SMRs’ portability, modularity, steam characteristics, and maintenance needs.

Conversations with a number of industry experts in Alberta in mid-2011 elicited views like these:

“When they advance the technology, we might be interested.  It’s too far from deployment right now.”

“Coal and gas are abundant and cheap here, at least for now. Why should the province help nuclear, an outside industry, rather than coal or gas?”

“Nuclear will be the likely option because it’s the alternative with no greenhouse gases.  But it takes time to develop that option.”

“The oil industry is actually quite risk-averse.  They need to see a new technology demonstrated before they’ll invest in it.”

Those are anecdotal and attitudinal comments, but they reflect an industry state of mind:  there is an economic opportunity in nuclear that is not being seized.

The likely steps to realizing this opportunity could be:

  • First, some academic and/or think-thank studies to build awareness of the scope of the opportunity.
  • Second, a technical survey of the bitumen operations’ energy requirements, and of the available nuclear technologies, to shorten the list of technical options.
  • Third, a multi-stakeholder technology development process, aimed at narrowing the technology gaps to a point where cost ranges and time frames would be sufficiently defined that business models could be contemplated.

The opportunity in bringing nuclear to the oil sands should stand on its own merits, and we have a responsibility to future generations to evaluate it based on the facts.

But having a vision of what we want, and the imagination to get there, is indispensable to winning as a country.  The successes we have today in Canada’s nuclear and oil sands industries, the pioneers who foresaw them, and the roads we travelled to achieve them, tell us that.

Nuclear Energy Nuclear News Nuclear Pride

Canada’s Top Ten Weather Stories for 2011

Environment Canada has put together a year-end review of the top weather stories of 2011.

From floods to fire, melting Arctic seas, heat waves, blizzards, hurricanes and tornados – 2011 was a weather year to remember. Canadians from coast to coast to coast were affected by this year’s weather extremes and their insurance companies reported the second most expensive year for weather losses.

The 7th top weather story is this summer’s heat wave that struck the middle of Canada, from Saskatchewan to Quebec. We’re in Ontario where over half of our electricity comes from nuclear and were all glad to have that reliable baseload power to keep us cool.

More than the daily benefits of nuclear power generation, because there are virtually no greenhouse gas emissions from our nuclear power plants, our keeping cool with nuclear does not contribute to smog or climate change (climate change which many believe is the cause of the extreme weather we are experiencing in recent years).

Did you know:
Currently, nuclear energy provides 15% of the electricity produced in Canada, serving the needs of millions of people across Canada. Electricity currently generated by nuclear power plants in Canada saves the potential emission of about 90 million tonnes of greenhouse gases per year that would result from the same amount of electricity generated by fossil-based sources. This makes up about 12% of Canada’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

Read all of Environment Canada’s Top Weather Stories of 2011.

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Clean Air Day June 8, 2011

Clean Air Day June 8, 2011

Clean Air Day is a celebration of environmentally-friendly activities that promote clean air and good health across Canada. It is a great opportunity to make environmentally-friendly lifestyle choices, for you, your family and your community. Here are some events taking place. Leave us a comment below if you know of any Clean Air Day events in your community.

Did you know that Canada’s nuclear electricity plants release virtually no emissions that cause climate change or smog?

As Canada and the global community work to address the challenges of Climate Change, nuclear energy provides a clean energy solution for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

And let’s remember that as most of the country struggles to stay cool in our first heat wave of 2011, nuclear energy can enable renewable technologies when, for example wind turbines are not operating in hot, humid weather conditions. Imagine the possibilities with complementary energy sources using nuclear’s “24-hour base load power” advantage.

Nuclear reactors such as those at Bruce Power's nuclear site produce none of the gases that result in climate change, smog, or acid rain.

 

 

Avoided emissions

Here are some important facts: By using nuclear energy, we avoid the potential emission of about 90 million tonnes of greenhouse gases per year (if coal-fired power was used instead). This is equivalent to the greenhouse gases produced by 18 million vehicles – or about 12% of Canada’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

For 48 years, Canada’s nuclear industry has achieved an unparalleled record of safe, reliable and economic power generation in three provinces. Nuclear energy is responsible for 15% of Canada’s electricity production and for over 55% of Ontario’s alone. Nuclear goes well beyond electricity generation.  It is also the basis for vital cancer-fighting medical technologies, diagnosis and treatment, medical sterilization and food irradiation, desalination of water and other emerging technologies.

Happy Clean Air Day! Let’s not take our planet for granted

Learn more about nuclear energy and clean air (PDF)