Tag Archives: Policy

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 R&D

Canada’s Innovation Puzzle: Is our National Conversation Missing a Piece?

John Stewart – CNA Director of Policy and Research

Canadians have been concerned for decades about their country’s level of research and development activity, which is presumably related to productivity and living standards. However, recent major national studies and policy efforts related to R&D have focused almost exclusively on business performance of R&D. As policy-makers in the US and other major innovator countries recognize, public institutions such as national laboratories are an integral part of national science and technology performance, as they concentrate many diverse researchers together, offer training opportunities for highly qualified personnel in many fields, and can supply R&D facilities and services that may not be offered by private institutions, regardless of incentives. Policy efforts must look at the full ecosystem of public, academic and private institutions to have a complete picture of national science and technology performance.

Access the entire article here (PDF)

This article is featured in the September issue of the Institute for Research on Public Policy (IRPP)’s Policy Options magazine.  This month’s focus is on innovation.

Policy Options > Innovation Issue – September 2011

Nuclear News Nuclear Pride

Germany’s Nuclear Phase Out

Germany announced yesterday plans to phase out nuclear by 2022. German Environment Minister
Norbert Röttgen said:

“It’s definite: the latest end of the last three nuclear power plants is 2022. There will be no clause for revision.”

While we can’t comment on the specifics of Germany’s most recent decision (Germany has changed its nuclear policy three times in 15 years), the Canadian industry is watching international developments with great interest.

One thing is clear – 23% of Germany’s electricity will have to be replaced with another source.

According to this Reuters article, cutting nuclear in Germany will add 40 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions each year. One analyst says:

“We will see a pick-up in German coal burn. Longer term, they will be using more renewables and gas but this year and next, we should see a lot of support for coal burn.”

This hardly seems like a victory worth celebrating, as many German anti-nukes are, especially considering the how damaging the burning of fossil fuels, like coal, is. But as Bill Gates said recently,

“Coal kills fewer people at one time, which is highly preferred by politicians.”

Here in Canada, nuclear has been a pillar of our electricity system for more than 50 years – and let’s not forget all of the products and services that nuclear medicine and R&D has contributed to all Canadians, plus the highly-skilled jobs that come out of those sectors. Nuclear also contributes to safety and research in other major sectors, such as our auto and aerospace industries. Nuclear is also one of the most cost-effective of the large-scale energies and, aside from hydro, no other source of energy can produce so much clean, baseload power at such sustained levels as nuclear.

Yeah, we’re pretty sure that support for nuclear energy in Canada will continue for a long time.