Monthly Archives: June 2011

Messages Nuclear News

CNA Supports the Acquisition of the CANDU Reactor Division of AECL

President & CEO of the CNA – Denise Carpenter

Since the Government of Canada announced plans to restructure AECL in 2007, the Canadian Nuclear Association (CNA) has been consistent and clear that we support a structure that will advance the nuclear energy industry in Canada and make it more competitive. Today’s decision marks the turning of an important corner for Canadian nuclear technology. SNC-Lavalin, like AECL, is a valued member of the CNA and we wish them success in this new venture. Great opportunities lie ahead.

The CNA represents the future of all nuclear technologies in Canada.  We want to grow the benefits those technologies can bring to the lives of Canadians. Our industry supports changes that will open up opportunities to expand those benefits and the excellent, high-knowledge jobs that go along with them. We have also emphasized that research is at the heart of our industry.

For Canada to remain a competitive player in the global nuclear industry we need investments in science, technology and innovation to maintain our expertise which is known around the world. The next step, in our view, is for the Government to review the governance and future of nuclear science and technology in Canada.

The division of AECL that is not being divested is central to the nuclear S&T sector in Canada.  That sector also consists of major facilities in Vancouver, Saskatoon and Laval plus various private companies and more than a dozen universities across the country.  We urge the Government to strike an expert panel as soon as possible to consider the governance and future of this sector.

CANDU reactor designs are intrinsically safe and proliferation-resistant.  They exceed federal standards, and operate safely in at least six countries including some of the largest future markets for nuclear:  China, India and South Korea.  With their excellent record of operating performance, these designs – and the group of Canadians who stand behind them – potentially have a large role to play in meeting the needs of these and other emerging markets.

So do the rest of the roughly 100 companies in our industry and the people who work there, spreading the benefits of nuclear technologies – from medicine, to food safety, to crop science, to advanced manufacturing – around the world.

On behalf of the Canadian nuclear industry, we congratulate SNC-Lavalin as they renew and grow their role in Canada’s commercial reactor sector.”

Nuclear News

The Future of AECL – Pending an Official Announcement

The federal government announced its plan to restructure AECL back in 2007. It must be close to fruition since this week the news of the impending sale of AECL’s CANDU division has all but taken over the headlines.

We at the CNA have consistently stated our support for a structure that will advance the nuclear energy industry in Canada and make it more competitive. We’re waiting with baited breath for the details and will update you when they’re revealed.

Here is a snapshot of the headlines. Keep in mind that nothing official has been announced so everything is speculation.

Privatization of AECL will mean higher costs for ratepayers: critics June 28, 2011 (carried in the Toronto Star and elsewhere)

TORONTO – The proposed sale of Crown-owned Atomic Energy of Canada to a Montreal-based engineering firm will lead to higher costs for ratepayers in Ontario, critics warned Tuesday…

Impending AECL sale puts Ontario, Ottawa on collision course
Globe and Mail, June 28, 2011

Ontario is on a collision course with Ottawa over the Harper government’s impending deal to sell off Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., and get out of the business of subsidizing nuclear reactor sales…

Dwight Duncan on Ottawa’s AECL deal: ‘What are they going to do for Ontario?’
Globe and Mail, June 28, 2011

Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan signalled Tuesday that the province is heading for a showdown with Ottawa over the fate of Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd…

AECL sale shouldn’t affect Lepreau: Leonard
CBC, June 29, 2011

The sale of Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. to SNC-Lavalin should not affect the troubled refurbishment project at the Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station, Energy Minister Craig Leonard said Tuesday…

New Democrats call for audit of AECL selloff
Northumberland View, June 28, 2011

OTTAWA – New Democrats have taken their concerns about the sell-off of Canada’s nuclear crown corporation to a higher power—asking the Auditor General to perform a value-for-money audit before any deal is completed…

Opposition wary of AECL sale
Leader-Post, June 29, 2011

Opposition politicians demanded the government negotiate a fair price for Atomic Energy of Canada Limited Tuesday, as rumours swirled that the Crown corporation soon will be sold to Montreal-based engineering giant SNC-Lavalin…

Feds on verge of selling AECL: Reports
Sudbury Star, June 29, 2011

OTTAWA — The federal government is on the verge of selling Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. to Montreal-based SNC-Lavalin, according to media reports…

Lavalin nears deal for CANDU maker
Montreal Gazette, June 29, 2011

Opposition politicians demanded the government negotiate a fair price for Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. Tuesday, as rumours swirled that the crown corporation soon will be sold to engineering giant SNC-Lavalin…


Nuclear Education Nuclear Energy

How is your Energy Systems Literacy?

Last week we blogged about the need for a conversation about energy and a pan-Canadian energy strategy.
June 28-29th in Calgary, Pollution Probe is holding an Energy Systems Literary  in Canada workshop as part of its ongoing series about engaging Canadians in dialogue about energy. According to the workshop’s overview,

Pollution Probe’s workshop series on Energy Systems Literacy in Canada is a national initiative designed to promote a new approach to engaging Canadians in a dialogue about energy – a dialogue that is firmly rooted in a “whole-systems” perspective that recognizes the interconnections between the energy sources we draw on to deliver the energy services we demand.

The regional workshops are taking place from February to September 2011 and are for energy stakeholders to convene and take a forward-looking approach to energy systems in Canada. They are intended to build the foundation of a longer-term program to build energy systems literacy in Canada, supportive of national energy priorities.

Pollution Probe produces the Primer on Energy Systems in Canada which is meant to “identify the opportunities for improving the way that we produce, distribute and use energy.” It is important to understand the energy mix.

The CNA is a proud sponsor of the Pollution Probe workshop series. We understand the energy mix. Because nuclear power plants operate all the time, they play an important role in Canada’s energy portfolio — and with electricity demand projected to increase by 34% by 2025 (due to population growth and new technology developments), meeting this demand will required increased capacity to produce reliable electricity.

Nuclear provides reliable, clean, non-emitting base load power that is a great start for other renewables like wind and solar. Nuclear is also a better alternative to burning fossil fuels which contribute to climate change.

What energy generating technologies do you think should be part of Canada’s energy mix?

June 28h-29th, 2011

Pollution Probe  is

  • A Canadian charitable environmental organization that
    • Defines environmental problems through research;
    • Promotes understanding through education; and,
    • Presses for practical solutions through advocacy.
Messages Nuclear Energy

The Global Nuclear Renaissance will be Slowed, not Stopped

The global nuclear renaissance will be slowed, not stopped, by events in Japan.  That was one of the messages in a presentation delivered in Ottawa on June 24 by World Energy Congress Secretary General Christoph Frei.

Nuclear Shift

According to Secretary General Frei, two-thirds of the world’s reactors under construction are in three countries – China, Korea and Russia – that show no sign of changing their building plans in response to Fukushima.  If anything, he said, Fukushima could accelerate a shift of the nuclear industry out of the developed democracies and toward emerging economies.

Frei opined that the expansion of shale gas output is likely a greater challenge to the nuclear renaissance than events in Japan, and that oil shale also has enormous potential in energy supply.

Contextualizing Clean Energy

While there is currently massive investment in clean energy sources, Frei noted, this needs to be put into longer-term context.  Because the existing base for most new energy technologies is so small, even very rapid growth may take many years to transform the world’s capital stock.  As a result, the future impact of green energy is probably being overestimated in the short- and medium-term – but, for the same reasons, will be underestimated in the long term, if high growth rates continue to prevail when the sector is more mature.

Development vs. Sustainability

Finally, he observed, it is legitimate for poorer countries to put development ahead of sustainability.  The world needs to offer them “a development framework with climate mechanisms, not a climate framework with development mechanisms.”

Christoph Frei, an engineer and econometrician, has headed the WEC Secretariat since 2009.  He was previously with the World Economic Forum and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology.  CNA was part of a select group of energy policy stakeholders who met with Frei in an event organized by the Energy Council of Canada and hosted by the Canadian Gas Association.

Nuclear Energy

Canada Needs a Serious Conversation on Electricity

This was one of the key messages from yesterday’s Canada 2020 panel on the future of Canada’s electricity sector.

A conversation on electricity for us, of course, means Talking Nuclear. Nuclear energy is an affordable, available and reliable source of energy, meeting growing demands for electricity, now and in the future – if we let it. And nuclear provides a clean and reliable source of power too making it an important part of Canada’s clean energy portfolio – because there are virtually no greenhouse gas emissions from our power generating plants and it doesn’t contribute to climate change or smog.

Canada 2020 has made quite a name for itself by hosting a number of high-profile panels on pressing public policy issues. Today’s Power Talk event was no exception: with Don Newman as the moderator, some of Canada’s leading thinkers took two hours out of their busy days to discuss the future of Canada’s power infrastructure.

For decades, Canada’s public has become used to cheap, reliable electricity. Got a Flat Screen TV ? Plug it in. New computer? Plug it in. That’s the current reality in Canada – and one of the reasons life in Canada is as good as it is.

In his opening speech, Pierre Guimond – President & CEO of the Canadian Electricity Association – reminded the audience that much of Canada’s electricity infrastructure is now more than 50 years old, and that it was originally built to provide electricity to about 20 million people. And while the system was set up – fortunately – with considerable overcapacity – it is becoming quite stretched, now that Canada’s population has reached about 35 million people, and continues to grow.

Since the 2003 Blackout, the Ontario electricity system has come more than once very close to the point of becoming overloaded from excessive demand – and while excellent management and a bit of luck succeeded in avoiding widespread outages, the risk of major brownouts and blackouts is increasing from year to year. Already, some companies have decided against doing business in Ontario, simply because they have looked at the local electricity system and found it wanting.


The Cost of Not Investing in Canada’s Electricity Infrastructure

If Canadians want to continue living in a country where electricity comes from a plug in the wall whenever it is needed, it will be necessary to invest at least $15 billion every year, for 20 years.

This certainly is a lot of money – particularly during the current economic downturn – but certainly also pales before the costs of not investing enough.

Jayson Myers – President and CEO of the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters – provided the audience with a good illustration of what can happen when the electricity system is not reliable: a small Ontario-based food manufacturing company lost more than $25,000 when it suffered a series of power surges lasting no more than 6 seconds. Most consumers probably wouldn’t have noticed this – beyond a brief flickering of the room lights – but since all the company’s control systems were electronic, the entire factory reset and needed to be restarted.

As several speakers pointed out, Canada as a whole currently invests only around $10 billion annually into the electricity system – almost a third too low.

And while some analysts have pointed to the recent slump in electricity demand, Craig Alexander – Senior VP and Chief Economist at TD Bank Financial Group – was adamant that expecting Canada’s electricity demand to stagnate, or even drop further, is unrealistic. Just on the consumer side, there is an increasing demand for electronic devices across the board. And once the economy finds its footing again, industry demand is bound to rise as well.

Not only are current investments too low, according Derek Burney, Canada’s regulatory system is needlessly cumbersome and often delays desperately needed energy projects by decades, while companies spent billions just to go through the process. This is no argument against good regulation to protect the environment and public health, but regulators should take steps to make it more efficient.


Nuclear Power Part of the Solution

There also was broad agreement on the need to pursue an energy policy that focuses on ensuring improved environmental performance, and a reduced reliance on fossil fuels. However, while going ‘green’ is generally a good thing, care should be taken to invest in technologies that are likely to provide Canadians with sufficiently reliable energy over the years. In this context, John Manley summarized the sentiment around the table by saying that nuclear must remain part of the solution, particularly in Ontario, where its role as base load power is irreplaceable.


A Pan-Canadian Strategy

Finally, all participants agreed that Canada needs to find a way for a national strategy – not just provincial or regional solutions. This country is blessed with some of the richest and cleanest energy sources in the world. Energy should be Canada’s economic advantage, not challenge. While the federal government does not determine provincial energy policies, there is a role for the federal government to provide leadership and encourage cooperation between provinces and across the country on energy.

This could involve streamlining the regulatory system throughout Canada, helping to improve interconnections across provincial borders, raise awareness for the need of greater energy cooperation and improved energy policy.

To this end, the Canadian Nuclear Association, along with the Canadian Electricity Association and others, is a member of Energy Policy Institute of Canada (EPIC), an organization whose sole purpose is:

to develop a comprehensive, pan-Canadian approach to energy which will provide the foundation for recommendations to federal, provincial and territorial government authorities responsible for energy and environment policy. We believe better analysis, based on better information, will lead to better policy.

Whatever the roles of the federal and provincial governments maybe in the future, one thing is clear: Canadians cannot afford to postpone serious conversation and decisive action on electricity much longer. Every year we wait is a year closer to the point where our current system becomes so unreliable that it no longer enables economic growth in this country, but undermines it.

Among the documents handed out during the event was this little graph. Puts the cost of electricity into perspective, doesn’t it?

a little bit of history

An event recording of the PowerTalk symposium, and other materials, is now available online.

CNA Responds Messages Nuclear Pride Waste Management

PHAI Update Re: Different Take on PVP Program

There’s been the need to clear the air over a recent article in the Toronto Star about the Port Hope Area Initiative (PHAI) — a federal government program to remove the historic low-level radioactive waste from Port Hope. We blogged about it last week and on Saturday June 18, a letter from the Port Hope Area Initiative’s Mark Giles appeared in the Toronto Star.

Different take on PVP program
Published On Sat Jun 18 2011

Re: Tough Sell, June 11

The Property Value Protection (PVP) program has a specific set of criteria for homeowners and should not be confused with other programs designed to deal with the presence of low-level radioactive waste in Port Hope.

The PVP program is not designed to provide compensation for the presence of historic low-level radioactive waste on a property…

Continue reading at

This video on the PHAI website gives a brief overview of the PVP Program.