Tag Archives: Nuclear Power

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IPCC report stresses the need for nuclear

Once again, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has recognized the importance of nuclear energy in climate change mitigation.

In its October 1.5° Celsius Special Report, based on limiting the increase from pre-industrial times to 1.5°C, the IPCC outlined what kind of greenhouse gas reduction measures will be required to meet this goal.

Not surprisingly, the rapid decarbonization of the global electricity sector will require, at first, the deployment of proven large capacity power technologies, such as nuclear power.

To show how this can be done, the report looked at four emission model pathways.

To meet the 1.5°C target, the four emission model pathways project an increase in nuclear power generation between 98% and 501% by 2050, relative to 2010.

With population growth and improved living standards in the developing world, it will take all forms of clean energy to lower overall carbon emissions over the next three decades.

This is not the first time climate change mitigation models noted the important role of nuclear.

In 2016, the Canadian government released Canada’s Mid-Century Long-Term Low-Greenhouse Gas Development Strategy report.  It models eight different scenarios designed to achieve drastic GHG reductions by 2050, and in all cases, nuclear is a contributing energy source.

“In all of the low GHG economy modelling analyses, non-emitting sources such as hydro, nuclear, wind, and solar replace fossil fuel generation well before mid-century,” the report stated.

CNA Responds

Small Nuclear Reactors are Powering Ships World Wide

The following letter from John Stewart, Director of Policy and Research at the Canadian Nuclear Association, originally appeared in the Financial Times on June 3, 2019.

You use a full page to outline the massive environmental impacts of oil-powered shipping, and even mention weak options like sails and batteries. Why don’t you give a few paragraphs to a safe, non-emitting way to drive large vessels that has worked well for 65 years?

Small reactors have driven submarines, aircraft carriers and icebreakers quietly and reliably all over the world since 1954. Amazingly few writers recognize nuclear as the clean energy solution that it already is, and will be. FT should have joined them long ago.

John Stewart
Ottawa, ON, Canada

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CNA response to CBC story on SMR’s in Saskatchewan

Re Viable alternative’ or ‘greenwashing?’: Sask. experts divided on nuclear power

In your May 24 story, Jim Harding says Saskatchewan’s electricity grid is small enough to be powered by wind and solar.

While Saskatchewan has some of the best wind and solar resources in the country, there are limitations as to when these technologies produce electricity as well as how much can be accommodated on any one electricity system (regardless of the size of the grid). As a result, the way to create more “space” for renewables is to pair them appropriately with power that’s available 24 / 7.

As a result, the real question should be—what is the best mix of electricity for Saskatchewan?

The Government of Saskatchewan is considering new nuclear—specifically Small Modular Reactors (SMRs)—because the province has some of the world’s best uranium resources.

They are considering it because they know it works reliably and cleanly, and it generates great jobs.

Lastly, while giving credit for nuclear not emitting carbon when producing electricity, Mr. Harding claims that nuclear energy’s life-cycle emissions detract from this.

The fact is, all forms of electricity production emit some amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, even if they don’t burn fossil fuels.

Though nuclear energy does have an intensive life-cycle, from mining of uranium ore to storage of spent fuel, it releases no carbon in its operations. When all of these steps are taken into account, nuclear power still compares favourably with renewable energy sources – and is well ahead of fossil fuels.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, nuclear power sits alongside renewables such as wind and hydro as electricity sources with lifetime carbon emissions of under or about 20 grams per kilowatt-hour (g/kWh).

Saskatchewan is blessed with abundant solar, wind and uranium resources. The best mix of technologies to decarbonize its electricity system is abundantly clear.

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Nuclear industry steps in after GM layoffs

General Motors plant in Oshawa, Ontario.

Ontario’s nuclear industry has reached out to help General Motors (GM) workers affected by the company’s planned closure of their Oshawa, Ontario, plant.

On November 26, GM announced that it would close its Oshawa assembly plant the end of 2019 as part of global restructuring. The closure would affect more than 2,500 jobs at the Oshawa plant.

The layoffs will have a major impact on the Oshawa economy.  According to Unifor, the union representing GM workers, every job at the Oshawa plant is tied to seven spin-off jobs in the community.

But just four days later, Ontario’s nuclear industry stepped in to let Unifor know that it would do what it can to ease the blow to the community and workers.

Bruce Power and Ontario Power Generation (OPG) sent a joint letter to the leadership of Unifor, expressing support for workers at GM Oshawa.

“Bruce Power and Ontario Power Generation recognize the role the auto industry and the Oshawa GM plant have played in Ontario’s economy for decades and we believe that we can play a part in keeping these highly skilled people in high-paying jobs in the nuclear industry,” the letter stated.

“Skilled tradespeople and skilled workers are one of our province’s biggest assets and there is a deficit being predicted in the Ontario labour market. Bruce Power, OPG and the Ontario nuclear fleet support employment and training opportunities for skilled workers.”

At over $25 billion, the refurbishment of Ontario’s nuclear power plants is the largest clean-technology investment in the country.

The refurbishment projects will put thousands of people to work and ensure economic prosperity for the province of Ontario for years to come.

“OPG’s Darlington Refurbishment Project and Bruce Power’s Major Component Replacement (MCR) Program are the two largest infrastructure projects in Ontario. We understand the value of a trained, skilled workforce for Ontario and we look forward to playing a part in keeping Ontario’s workforce employed,” the letter concluded.

CNA Responds

CNA response to “Ford and Wynne wrong on electricity costs”

Re: “Ford and Wynne wrong on electricity costs” (Hamilton Spectator, May 26)

Once again, the anti-nuclear Ontario Clean Air Alliance ignores the facts about the feasibility of replacing nuclear power with hydroelectricity imports from Quebec.

Currently, the people of Ontario benefit from the safe, reliable, low-cost energy generated at the Pickering nuclear power plant. Importing hydro from Quebec would require millions of dollars in infrastructure upgrades, and result in higher consumer prices, less energy reliability, and result in thousands of job losses.

Last year’s report by Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) said Quebec would not be able to supply Ontario with electricity during the winter season because it would not have enough to supply its own needs.

According to the IESO: “To be able to supply Ontario with firm year-round capacity, it is expected that Hydro-Quebec would need to build additional resources above what they have for internal capacity needs.”

The all-in cost of long-term large-scale purchases from Quebec, including the cost of required interconnections and transmission investment in Ontario and Quebec and the cost of new hydro generation investment in Quebec, would be significantly more than quoted by the OCAA

Like all things that appear to be a cure for all ills, the real solution is somewhat more complex. Portraying hydro imports as a cost-effective baseload replacement is a non-viable solution to a problem that does not exist.

John Barrett
President and CEO
Canadian Nuclear Association

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NASA and Nuclear Power

marssoilviewNASA’s history with nuclear power dates all the way back to the early 1960s when the U.S. Navy launched a navigation satellite powered by nuclear energy.

Nuclear energy’s ability to withstand the most extreme conditions has made it an important part of space missions, including the Mars 2020 mission. The next journey to the Red Planet will focus on bringing back soil samples and exploring the atmosphere of Mars to determine its habitability for human life.

NASA recently highlighted the significance of nuclear energy stating, “Mars, Venus, Jupiter, Europa, Saturn, Titan, Uranus, Neptune, the moon, asteroids and comets.  A number of these missions could be enabled or significantly enhanced by the use of radioisotope power systems (RPS).”

A RPS works like this: Through the natural decaying process, isotopes produce a tremendous amount of heat. In the case of an RPS, as the isotope plutonium-238 decomposes the heat is converted into electricity which in turn is used to power travel through space. Plutonium-238 is an artificial element with a half-life of 88 years. The longevity of nuclear energy makes the RPS an ideal and reliable source of power generation even under the harshest of circumstances.

The challenging environment includes temperature extremes not known to earth. Take the moon for example. Temperatures on the surface of the moon can fluctuate between highs of 125 degrees Celsius and lows of -175 degrees. Another challenge with travelling to the outer reaches of the solar system, such as with the New Horizons missions, is being able to conduct research in the dark, requiring a power source that can still operate without the energy of the sun.

For the Mars missions, a big factor in power selection is dust. During its infamous dust storms, the red planet can kick up dust to last for weeks at a time, coating “continent-sized areas,” according to NASA.

Nuclear power has the added benefit of being compact.

“Solar would be too big and we’ve that learned dust in the Martian atmosphere accumulates on the solar cells, so unless you have wind storms to clear them off, you will kill the missions off by running down the batteries,” according to Dr. Ralph McNutt, principal investigator for the New Horizons Pluto Energetic Particle Spectrometer Science Investigation (PEPSSI), from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland. “If you want to run rovers on Mars and do it accurately and if you want to go to the moon and really investigate in permanent shadows you need nuclear power.”

Compact size isn’t just beneficial, it’s required when working in outer space. Einstein’s theory of relativity (E=Mc2), essentially states that the further the distance you want to travel, the more speed is required, therefore the mass of the object travelling must decrease.

The Rover for Mars 2020 will be about the size of a car and will measure approximately 7 feet in height. The nuclear powered MARS 2020 mission will launch in the summer of 2020 and could provide new clues to past life on the not so distant planet.