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Nuclear Science, Climate Change & Sustainable Development: An Idea Worth Sharing

The fury of the Atlantic was on full display in late summer and early fall as hurricanes lined up to batter the Atlantic coast. Harvey, Irma and Maria knocked out power to millions of people and left communities in ruins. The power of Irma destroyed or damaged almost all the buildings on Barbuda, forcing the entire island to be abandoned. Meanwhile the force of Maria was enough to knock out power to all of Puerto Rico and citizens could be in the dark for months.

The Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), recently reported that ocean warming, resulting from climate change could have direct impacts on future hurricanes.

“Anthropogenic warming by the end of the 21st century will likely cause tropical cyclones globally to be more intense on average (by 2 to 11% according to model projections for an IPCC A1B scenario). This change would imply an even larger percentage increase in the destructive potential per storm, assuming no reduction in storm size.”

It’s not just through hurricanes that we see the direct impacts of climate change on human life. Climate change plays a huge role in access to food, water, health and the environment. As such, it is one of the contributing factors affecting sustainable global development. There are other factors to be sure. Together however, they condemn large parts of the world to poverty, underdevelopment, poor health amid a deteriorating environment. So, what to do?

To make life better for both developed and developing countries, the United Nations, in partnership with the global community, set out seventeen Sustainable Development Goals. These goals focus on meeting our needs today without compromising our future.

Thanks to uranium atoms, we can provide the necessary power to help lift people out of energy poverty, provide clean drinking water and help protect the environment, thereby bettering the lives of billions of people around the world. Nuclear science meets NINE of the seventeen sustainable development goals.

2 Zero Hunger:  Using nuclear science to alter the DNA of plants is a proven effective method to make them more resilient to climate change and is in use by 100 countries.

3 Good Health And Well-Being: A nuclear by-product, Cobalt-60, plays an important role in nuclear medicine. Low-grade Cobalt-60 is used to sterilize medical equipment such as syringes and catheters. High-Speed Activity (HSA) or medical-grade Cobalt-60 is widely used to treat cancer patients. Over 70 million people have been treated thanks to nuclear science.

6 Clean Water And Sanitation: Nuclear science using electron beams (e-beams) can break apart chemical bonds. China, the world’s largest textile industry, recently opened-up an e-beam wastewater treatment facility to treat and reuse wastewater used in clothing manufacturing.

7 Affordable And Clean Energy: According to IAEA projections, energy demand will rise by 60-100% by 2030. To help lift people out of poverty and realize the climate goals set out in Paris, low-carbon, cheap energy is needed. According to the Ontario Energy Board, in 2016, nuclear cost just under 7 cents per kilowatt hour, making it one of the most cost-effective, clean sources of energy. (Solar costs 48 cents per kilowatt hour and hydro 6 cents.)

9 Industry, Innovation And Infrastructure: Innovation in nuclear technology includes Generation IV reactors, hydrogen fuels, small modular reactors (SMRs) and fusion energy.

13 Climate Action: Globally, nuclear power avoids 2.5 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions every year, equal to taking approximately half of all (520 million cars) off the world’s roads. Nuclear power is the largest non-hydro source of low-carbon, clean energy worldwide, providing almost 12% of global electricity production.

14 Life Below Water: Nuclear science techniques that use radioisotopes can diagnose the impacts of ocean acidification on the food chain, giving scientists a better understanding of how rising acidity impacts both ecosystems and marine life.

15 Life On Land: Isotopes are a valuable environmental risk assessment tool as they can identify various contaminants which can help to assist with environmental monitoring and remediation of land areas.

17 Partnerships For The Goals: The global nuclear community has a long list of partnerships including various UN agencies such as the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Health Organization (WHO), universities and thank tanks and Indigenous communities.

While violent hurricane seasons are nothing new, the warming of our ocean waters, brought about by climate change, raise the concern that more catastrophic hurricanes, like the ones this season, could be the new normal. It’s just one example that underlines the importance of investments in sustainable science and technology, like nuclear, in order to keep the Earth on course to meet sustainable development goals today, ensuring a successful tomorrow.

Nuclear Innovation

New SMR Association to Present on November 18

The Emissions-Free Energy Working Group, Canada’s new small reactor association, will make a
presentation on the margins of next week’s Annual General Meeting of the Organization of Canadian Nuclear Industries on Nov 18 in Ajax, Ontario.  This AGM is themed on Small Modular Reactors Development and Applications.

Here’s what EFEWG Chair Neil Alexander has to say about this event:

OCI is pleased to announce that the Emissions-Free Energy Working Group (EFEWG) has chosen to use the opportunity provided by the OCI AGM and conference on small reactors to hold a follow-up meeting of its own on the work it is doing.  All members of OCI are invited to attend. The meeting is free to members of OCI and CNA but organizations are asked to limit their attendance to one or two representatives.   The meeting will be of interest to SMR vendors, potential SMR operators, EPCs seeking to build SMRs, safety and licensing consultancies and other supply-chain organizations that may benefit from the development of this new industry that will be complementary to the nation’s CANDU expertise.

 The vision of the EFEWG, a not-for-profit industry association, is a flourishing small reactor industry in Canada and it is presently identifying what must be done to turn that vision into a reality.  In the first phase of its activities it is in a dialogue with regulators, both nationally and internationally, and other stakeholders with a goal of ensuring that a framework for regulation is in place that assures public safety and is appropriate for these new technologies. 

 The meeting will start at 10:00am and will be held in one of the board rooms at the Ajax Hilton Garden Inn.  Details will be provided at the conference. The meeting will include presentations by the Chairman of EFEWG, Neil Alexander, and its Executive Director, Roger Humphries, on the activities of EFEWG and will include discussion of work that is taking place by IAEA through its Innovative Reactors and Fuel Cycles (INPRO)  program.

Nuclear Policy

Kicking Off the Discussion for a Policy Exercise

By John Stewart
Director, Policy and Research
Canadian Nuclear Association

A policy development forum recently asked CNA to identify a few key factors that shaped the development of Canada’s nuclear industry. We came up with eight. They range from the Western allies’ war needs in the 1940s (which invested us in uranium-based fission reactor technology) to Canada’s advanced cultures of medicine, public health and safety (which give us a culture of reactor safety, leadership in medical applications of nuclear, and leadership in irradiation and food safety).

The interesting thing about this analysis is how many advantages it reveals. Our industry faces challenges (notably cheap natural gas, lack of carbon pricing, and the problems of sustaining top-notch science and technology infrastructure). But the list of strengths is strikingly longer and more impressive than the list of challenges.

Even in a world where many reactor technology options are in development, it’s hard to beat a design series like the CANDUs that are familiar to regulators, with long track records of safety, reliability, and affordability. Then there’s the proliferation-resistance advantage of these designs, which is not diminishing and is probably growing as an asset in the 21st century. Canadian reactors offer the developing world an ideal combination of affordable, minimal-carbon electricity plus proliferation safety. And that Canadian nuclear brand is further strengthened by Canada’s reputation in safety, medicine and public health internationally.

Which brings up another asset on the list: Canada’s perennial and recognized openness to worldwide investment, technology and talent, and the tens of thousands of highly educated newcomers here who have links to foreign markets and practices. While this is a strength across the board in Canada’s economy, it’s especially powerful in a sector like nuclear that depends on global best practices and global market reach.

These thoughts are a very early step in a policy exercise that we’ll look forward to blogging about over the next few months.

Nuclear Education Nuclear Energy Nuclear Pride

Happy Earth Day!

According to Earth Day Canada, Earth Day was first launched as an environmental awareness event in the U.S. in 1970. That’s still the purpose today as millions of Canadians join 1 billion people from countries all over the globe in holding events and supporting projects that raise awareness of local and global environmental issues.

One of the greatest environmental challenges the world is facing today is climate change. As Canada and the global community work to address the challenges of climate change, nuclear energy is an important part of Canada’s clean energy portfolio. Nuclear power generation doesn’t contribute to climate change or smog because there are virtually no greenhouse gas emissions from our nuclear power facilities. And because nuclear power facilities produce large amounts of continuous power (base load), they enable the use of complementary renewable energy sources, like wind and solar. Currently nuclear energy provides 15% of Canada’s electricity. If this 15% was replaced by fossil fuels, it would increase Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions by 12%, or about 90 million tonnes.

It’s an interesting time for nuclear as countries are starting up and expanding their nuclear energy programs (China, India, Vietnam), and others are shying away for the time being (Germany, Japan). We believe nuclear is a key part of a clean energy future, for Canada and the world. So this Earth Day, why not learn more about the contributions of nuclear technology – not only in power generation but also in medicine, food safety, new technologies, innovation, etc. Visiting NUnuclear.ca is a good place to start.

Happy Earth Day!

Check out what one of our members is doing to celebrate Earth Day – or rather, Earth Week, in their case!
Bruce Power supports Earth Week by assisting environmental programs along the shoreline

“Although we do an excellent job of protecting the environment through our day-to-day operations, we understand the importance of educating the greater community and youth of Bruce and Grey counties on the importance of being good environmental stewards. By supporting these important community initiatives, we are helping to foster an appreciation and understanding of the environment at a very young age.” — Duncan Hawthorne, Bruce Power President and CEO

Messages Nuclear News

Canada’s Nuclear Industry Welcomes Modernized Regulatory System and Innovation Investments

March 29, 2012, OTTAWA – The Canadian Nuclear Association (CNA) today welcomed the Government of Canada’s Economic Action Plan 2012, “Jobs, Growth, and Long-Term Prosperity,” and key measures to create a modern regulatory system that will also contribute to improved environmental performance for Canada’s energy and mining projects.

“Regulatory modernization is a priority for our industry as it provides a competitive advantage for Canada,” said Denise Carpenter, President and CEO. “We are optimistic these proposed changes will increase efficiency and effectiveness of the regulatory process, and we look forward to working with the federal government to implement changes swiftly to enhance job creation and economic growth in Canada.”

The CNA serves approximately 100 member companies, representing 70,000 people employed in the production and advancement of nuclear medicine, uranium mining and exploration, fuel processing, and electricity generation.

“Our members support a regulatory process that establishes clear timelines, reduces duplication and burdens, and focuses resources on large projects where potential environmental impacts are the greatest,” added Carpenter, “We appreciate the focus on what matters to the environment.”

The CNA also applauded Innovation investments contained in Economic Action Plan 2012, such as the implementation of a Jenkins Panel recommendation to refocus the National Research Council (NRC) to improve its responsiveness to Canada’s business sector.

“Canada’s home-grown nuclear technologies connect the energy, medicine, manufacturing, advanced materials, and academic sectors with many other value-added industries, and the NRC is an important part of that innovation system,” said Carpenter. “Our industry believes there is great value to having strong public support for S&T that is responsive to the needs of industry.”

The Canadian nuclear industry provides a broad spectrum of products and services that benefit Canadians, generating approximately $6.6 billion per year and contributing $1.5 billion in tax revenue and $1.2 billion in export revenues.

Please visit www.cna.ca to follow CNA’s Blog, Twitter, and Facebook, and join in the “TalkNUclear” conversation.

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Background Information:

The CNA discussed this issue in the September 2011 “Innovation Issue” of Policy Options magazine:  http://www.irpp.org/po/archive/sep11/stewart.pdf

The CNA issued the following new release on March 14, 2012 to encourage the Government of Canada to fully consider the recommendations on the federal Environmental Assessment (EA) process made by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development: http://www.cna.ca/english/news_events/Mar14-2012-CNA-press-release.html

CNA2012 Nuclear Outreach

Send Your Questions for CNA2012 Panel – Nuclear Innovation: Bright Ideas to Keep the Lights On

The Nuclear Innovation panel at this year’s conference will explore “bright ideas to keep the lights on.” Moderator Marc Brouillette will ask questions for our innovative panelists to answer and share their bright ideas on the topics.

Topics for Discussion:

  1. Nuclear power and fostering nuclear S&T. How can we improve?
  2. The impact of the regulatory environment on innovation.
  3. Sourcing new talent today and in the future. How does talent impact innovation?
  4. Scale and Innovation: Do large scale innovations crowd out small projects?

What questions do YOU have for our panelists?

Three ways to send in your questions:

  1. Leave a comment on this post
  2. Post your question on our TalkNUclear Facebook page
  3. Tweet at @TalkNUclear using the #CNABrightIdeas hashtag.

Can’t attend but curious? Follow the panel #hashtag on Twitter – #CNABrightIdeas

 

Learn more about our moderator and panelists:

Moderator – Marc Brouillette

Mr. Brouillette focuses on industry analysis and restructuring strategy and the development of business models for emerging opportunities. He specializes in the creation of public/private multi-stakeholder business models and the negotiation of the associated contract relationships involving domestic and/or international stakeholders. His expertise spans across several industry sectors including aerospace, utilities, health care, gaming and telecommunications.

Prior to joining SECOR in January 2008, Mr. Brouillette was the principal consultant for Strategic Gaming Innovations and a manager within the strategy and transformation practice at CapGemini. While in these roles, he led the development of strategy and business innovation implementation in the charitable gaming sector for clients in Ontario, British Columbia, Quebec and Nova Scotia.

Prior to his career in strategy consulting, he helped develop and negotiate the international agreements defining Canada’s contribution to the International Space Station Program.

 

Panelist – Michael Lees

Michael Lees, the President of Babcock & Wilcox Nuclear Energy, Inc, an operating group of The Babcock & Wilcox Company. 

Headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, B&W NE serves the global commercial nuclear power industry with a broad portfolio of reactor components, nuclear design engineering, plant construction, inspection services and nuclear plant maintenance services. Mr. Lees is also the President of Babcock & Wilcox Canada Ltd., (B&W Canada) which is headquartered in Cambridge, Ontario.

Prior to being named to his current positions Mr. Lees was Director, Business Development & Marketing, B&W Canada. In this role He had the overall responsibility for identifying and securing new business opportunities. Previous positions include his appointment as General Manager, Nuclear Steam Generators and Components where he managed B&W Canada’s nuclear equipment business.

Mr. Lees serves on the Board of Directors and the Finance Committee for the Canadian Nuclear Association. Mr. Lees is a past recipient of the Ian McRae Award.

 

Panelist – Robert Prince

Robert Prince, CEO of Hyperion Power Generation

Mr. Prince has over 40 years in the nuclear industry and is a former CEO of Duratek, Inc., a leading radioactive waste transportation, treatment and disposition firm. Under his leadership at Duratek, the company grew from $7 to $300M in revenue when it was acquired in 2006 by EnergySolutions, Inc. He drove the commercialization of several technologies to better handle radioactive materials including a vitrification technology that has been embraced by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Before Duratek, Mr. Prince was the founder and CEO of General Technical Services (GTS), a wholly-owned subsidiary of General Physics Corporation, whose business was to provide support services to the nuclear power industry. GTS was acquired by Duratek in 1990. Prior to GTS, he was an engineer with Gilbert/Commonwealth where he spent 9 years on a wide range of nuclear power projects in Europe, Latin America, Mexico and the USA.

Mr. Prince is a former member of the Board of Directors of the Nuclear Energy Institute, and currently serves on the Board of Directors of Aqua-Chem, Thermafiber, MHF Services, and Kurion (a technology startup serving the nuclear industry). In 2004, he was conferred an honorary PhD in Commercial Science from The Catholic University of America for his pioneering initiatives in commercializing radioactive waste vitrification technologies.

 

Doug Richardson, CEO, General Fusion

Panelist – Doug Richardson

Mr. Richardson is an innovative technology leader who is highly skilled and experienced at developing and commercializing novel and unproven technologies. He has a history of formulating a clear vision, establishing a strategic direction, and successfully developing challenging products under demanding economic and time constraints.

Prior to establishing General Fusion, Doug spent 14 years at Creo Products in Vancouver in various roles from system engineer to director of business development. He led projects and groups that developed Creo Products’ key technologies and delivered profitable businesses and products.

Mr. Richardson holds three patents with two more pending.