Monthly Archives: May 2014


Nuclear Outlook Weak in Market-Driven North America

By John Stewart
Director, Policy and Research
Canadian Nuclear Association

Liberalized North American energy markets and a shale gas boom have made the financing of new nuclear plants extremely difficult, according to experts and U.S. industry executives.

Leading U.S. nuclear CEOs told the Nuclear Energy Assembly in Scottsdale, Arizona, on May 20, current market conditions are also now causing the premature closure of existing nuclear power plants, accelerating a loss of baseload power and a loss of fuel diversity. Canadian Nuclear Association (CNA) President John Barrett and CNA policy director John Stewart were in attendance at the conference.

The closure of the Kewaunee Power Station in Wisconsin last year stunned the industry. Market forces, not reactor age or safety, was cited as the cause.

William Mohl, an executive with Entergy Corporation, predicted that more nuclear plants will close without reform to the electricity market structure.

U.S. electricity prices are chronically too low, partly due to a politically-driven push for renewable energy combined with cheap natural gas and the short-term focus of liberalized electric power markets.

NEA participating experts said U.S. decision-makers, both public and private, will be slow to recognize the threat from loss of energy diversity, just as they were slow to recognize the implications of the shale revolution in oil and gas.

Lawrence Makovich, vice president at IHS CERA, said the reliability of the diverse generation mix is being taken for granted in the energy policy debate and many policymakers do not understand the problems associated with the intermittency of renewables.

“When people get this notion that solar is a substitute for conventional generation, you can see a country like Germany, with the solar intensity of Anchorage, Alaska, closing nuclear plants and replacing them with solar (facilities),” he told the conference.

Gerald Anderson, CEO with DTE Energy, also said there was a problem with the structure of markets. High capital intensity and price volatility have to led to distress and instability in the electric sector. He also said there is trouble attracting capital to invest in new build.

International Nuclear Energy

The Future of Nuclear in Korea: Sustaining Today; Assuring Tomorrow

By Heather Kleb
Vice President
Canadian Nuclear Association

BEXCO Convention Centre in Busan, Korea
BEXCO Convention Centre in Busan, Korea

There was an impressive turnout at this year’s Korea Atomic Industrial Forum / Korea Nuclear Society (KAIF/KNS) Annual Conference, with over 600 participants from more than 10 different countries.

The conference took place at the BEXCO Convention Centre in beautiful Busan, Korea. Busan, a port city, is known for bringing people together from all over the world, to attend its international conventions and exhibits.

The seats were filled as the morning keynotes began on April 16. By afternoon there was standing room only in many of the technical sessions. The number of participants swelled further as hundreds of high school students visited the trade show.

Ad on bus stop sign at Gimhae International Airport
South Korea’s nuclear industry ensures visibility through advertising, including on this sign at a bus stop at Gimhae International Airport in Busan.

The trade show had over 230 booths, representing 80 companies and organizations. Among the companies represented were AREVA, Westinghouse, KHNP, KEPCO E&C, KEPCO KPS, Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction Co., and the Korea Radioactive Waste Agency. As suggested by the conference theme, “Nuclear Beyond Changes and Challenges: Sustaining Today and Assuring Tomorrow,”  the nuclear industry has a strong presence in Korea and its contribution is in fact assured.

Korea is the fifth largest producer of nuclear power in the world and is poised to add 16 new reactors to its 23 reactor fleet. Nuclear power will continue to supply 30% of Korea’s electricity. Korea will be building on a history that includes four CANDU reactors.

Newspaper clipping from the Pinawa Press. The caption reads: "An exhibition game was held Sunday afternoon at the Pinawa soccer field between the Pinawa Selects and the Korean team, members of the Korean contingent who are on a work project with AECL (Atomic Energy of Canada Limited) for 6 months. The game proved to be an exciting one with good action back and forth between the two goals…”
Newspaper clipping from the Pinawa Press. The caption reads: “An exhibition game was held Sunday afternoon at the Pinawa soccer field between the Pinawa Selects and the Korean team, members of the Korean contingent who are on a work project with AECL (Atomic Energy of Canada Limited) for 6 months. The game proved to be an exciting one with good action back and forth between the two goals…”

Korea has a long history of technology exchange with Canada. During the conference Korean scientists shared stories of their work experience at the Whiteshell Laboratories in Manitoba, and the Douglas Point reactor in Ontario.

In-Cheol Lim, Vice President of the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute, shared a Pinawa Press news clipping from a soccer match that he participated in while working at Whiteshell Laboratories. As the smiling faces suggest, it might be time for Canadian and Korean scientists to team up once again.

We hope to see many of them at the Pacific Basin Nuclear Conference in Vancouver, BC, this August!


New Government Could Mean New Nuclear for India

By John Stewart
Director, Policy and Research
Canadian Nuclear Association

The election of a new government in India could be a big opportunity for the nuclear energy industry, according to Nicholas Burns, a former Bush administration Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs.

Burns, who is now a professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School, made the comments on May 21 at the Nuclear Energy Assembly in Scottsdale, Arizona. Canadian Nuclear Association President John Barrett and CNA policy director John Stewart were in attendance at the conference.

In May, Narendra Modi and his party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), won a decisive victory in India’s national elections.

According to Burns, energy is a persistent major problem in India and Modi understands the importance of both energy and infrastructure to drive economic growth.

India’s new government will also have to take a long, serious look at nuclear and modify its stringent nuclear liability law which is blocking investment in the sector, Burns said.

U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz had lobbied the previous government to align India’s liability law with international convention.

Burns is optimistic even though some energy analysts in India believe Modi may delay the previous government’s plan to build 20 gigawatts of nuclear capacity by 2020.

“Nuclear projects are not likely to be on the radar of the Modi government, at least for the next two years,” PricewaterhouseCoopers India’s executive director energy utilities Sambitosh Mohapatra told Press Trust of India.

“It will first focus on increasing coal production, allocation and pricing, apart from clearing the balance sheets of distribution companies.”

Canada currently has a presence in India’s nuclear industry, with six CANDU reactors in operation there.

Burns, who described himself as an unabashed supporter of civil nuclear energy, also said the outlook for nuclear energy in Europe has improved due to the Ukraine crisis and also by the urgency of the European Union’s climate change mitigation efforts.

Nuclear Jobs Nuclear Outreach

CNA Leads Export Finance Workshop

Is your company a member of the Canadian Nuclear Association? Do you need to know more about export financing?

If the answer to these questions is yes, you should check your calendar for Thursday June 5.

Successful Exporting for Canadian Nuclear Companies will be a two-hour lunchtime opportunity to meet with Export Development Corporation (EDC) and learn how export financing can work for Canadian firms.

The workshop is also open to members of the Organization of Canadian Nuclear Industries (OCI).

You don’t need to be a direct exporter.  EDC, a federal Crown corporation, also works with companies in the export supply chain.

Watch the CNA website or the Daily NUze for a formal announcement in coming days, and be sure to register through EDC. Space will be limited.

Why: To make the most of the international opportunity for Canadian products, technology and expertise

When: Thursday June 5 – 11:30 to 1:30 EDT

Where: Downtown Toronto, or by webinar (pre-registration required – watch for coming announcement)

Who: CNA or OCI members


London School of Economics Honours Noted Alum Dr. John Barrett

The following is a copy of the article that appears on the LSE alumni website.

John Barrett (PhD International Relations 1982) is President and Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Nuclear Association. He has chaired the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ).

What are the main advantages of nuclear technologies?

Their chief advantage is that they provide an enormous source of power for the clean generation of electricity. Nuclear generators emit virtually no greenhouse gases. They stand comfortably alongside hydro-electricity, substantially ahead of wind and solar, and miles ahead of natural gas-generated electricity. Coal-based electricity is off the map, its emissions are so high.

In providing clean air, nuclear power offers a means to combat climate change. Consider its value to not only to industrialised economies but particularly large emerging economies—China, India, Brazil and others—where the consumption of electricity and energy is growing substantially and relentlessly.

Beyond power production, nuclear reactors produce radioisotopes that enable cancer diagnostics and treatment, improving millions of lives. Nuclear imaging underpins the quality assurance techniques of advanced manufacturing. We can inspect high-stress assemblies such as rotor blades in jet turbines or welds in petroleum pipelines without having to cut them open.

What are the risks and threats of nuclear energy, especially in light of Fukushima? Is it possible to prevent nuclear disasters?

One should never assume that any human endeavour would succeed perfectly. Although we strive to eliminate risks, they persist. At Fukushima, water pumps failed when the earthquake knocked out a central electrical power line, and the tsunami drowned the back-up generators. Lacking cool water, three reactor cores overheated and melted.

To reactor designers, this demonstrates the value of multiple redundant layers of protection, and of complementing electric pumps with safety systems that rely on gravity. Even without electricity, a reactor can shut down safely and autonomously without over-heating.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO), which includes every power plant operator in the world, promote and enforce safety measures. Complementing this is a vigorous national nuclear regulator, operating at arm`s length from government and industry, to set the rules at the highest level and ensure compliance.

While we cannot entirely remove the risk, we can assure our citizens that we have thought through all possibilities and addressed them through defence-in-depth. We must identify, design against, control and mitigate the risks associated with highly complex technological processes. Thanks to this approach, in Canada we have had 60 years of nuclear reactor operations without fatality.

What are the main challenges you have faced in your career to date?

A complex foreign policy environment with competing interests requires careful handling. Trying to achieve consensus in a multilateral body is tough, especially when one chairs the negotiation. It takes only one dissenter to prevent an agreement. Some countries play that spoiler role happily and very well.

Challenges come from within too. Much internal discussion and self-examination is happening in foreign ministries these days. What is the role of the diplomatic mission in the 21st century, with information and reporting so constant, so de-centralized, and from so many extra-diplomatic sources?

When governments question the value and effectiveness of their foreign missions, then the focus shifts. Documenting how one achieves and measures results becomes paramount. Yet in diplomacy, results may not be quantifiable or easily measured.

What stands out most from your days at LSE?

LSE was the locus for that special time in one’s life – in this case, mine – to embark on an intellectual journey and to travel into uncharted areas of philosophy and the humanistic sciences; to think creatively and originally; to develop one’s own methodology for understanding international relations; to delve deeper than one ever had before (or for me, since) into the knowledge others purported to give. I remain quite proud of the thesis I wrote and the elucidation presented in it.

Also, the easy accessibility of the teaching staff; the camaraderie of our small band of IR enthusiasts devoting time and energy to keeping our journal, Millennium, afloat financially and filled with quality articles; and being a founder member of the British International Political Economy Group.

Who was your favourite academic?

Adam Roberts. He was my PhD supervisor before he moved to Balliol College, and before receiving his knighthood. His inimitable wit, astute observations and inquiring mind, his humanity and compassion, and his non-conformist ways put him in my pantheon of academic heroes. He has remained a lifelong friend.

Did you have a favourite place at LSE?

I had many. Before it became the Brunch Bowl, the cafeteria was characterised by long trestle tables, scraping chairs, rock cakes at 5 pence, and cups of tea at 4 pence.

Another favourite was the Beaver’s Retreat, full of professors and teaching staff with whom to debate and chat, including the redoubtable and unforgettable Philip Windsor. It was a treat to listen to his wit and wisdom, delivered in a classic radio voice.

Then there was the Millennium office, a tiny place up on the top floor of one of the buildings on Sheffield Street, just down from the White Horse. As Editor of this student-run journal of international relations, I spent quite a lot of time in that fusty eyrie.

And what of life in London?

In the late ‘70s and early ‘80s a brilliant music scene was emerging in nearby pubs and venues.  My musical tastes included being a “Young Friend of Covent Garden”, enjoying opera at 90 pence a ticket.  Living in N.1 meant that I could easily take in performances at Sadler’s Wells, walk to Highbury and the Clock End to watch Arsenal, or set off by foot or short bus ride to the Aldwych and the LSE. 


Canadian Chamber of Commerce Podcast: Nuclear Power and the Environment

CANADIAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE PODCAST: Nuclear Power and the Environment
Host: Katrina Marsh, Director of Environment and Natural Resources Policy
Experts: Dr. John Barrett, President, CNA, and John Stewart, Director of Policy and Research, CNA

Air Date: May 6, 2014

SUMMARY: Host Katrina Marsh sits down with Dr. John Barrett, President, CNA, and John Stewart, Director of Policy and Research, CNA, to talk about how Canadian nuclear technology fits into the global push for cleaner energy. Canadian nuclear reactors not only have lower life-cycle emissions than solar panels or geothermal systems, but can also act as fuel ‘recyclers’ by re-purposing waste made by other reactors.

Listen to the podcast on the Chamber site.

Or read the transcript below.

Announcer: Hello and welcome to “The Voice of Canadian Business”, The Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s bi-monthly podcast. In 15 minutes or less we discuss the key issues facing the Canadian economy and businesses across the country.

Katrina Marsh: Hello, my name is Katrina Marsh. I’m The Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s Director of Natural Resource and Environmental Policy and I’m hosting today’s podcast. So welcome. Nuclear power is a fascinating part of the world’s current energy mix. On the one hand, it provides a reliable source of low carbon energy; Canada has a strong home grown industry that includes uranium mining, production of medical isotopes or even the design of nuclear reactors. On the other hand, many people are deeply concerned about the safety of nuclear power, particularly in the wake of the Fukushima disaster in Japan. So today my guests are going to be speaking about Canada’s nuclear industry and its role in Canada’s energy mix. On the one hand I have Dr. John Barrett who’s President and CEO of the Canadian Nuclear Association and then John Stewart who’s the Canadian Nuclear Association’s Director of Policy and Research. Thank you both for joining me today.

John Barrett: You’re very welcome.

John Stewart: Thanks, Katrina.

Katrina Marsh: So just a start, can you give us a brief primer on the nuclear industry in Canada? Who are the main players and firms?

John Stewart: Katrina, it’s really been a progression over six or seven decades from the public sector to more players and more private investment. This technology, power generation in particular, really started as a collaboration of three different public sector firms; an Ontario Crown Corporation, a Saskatchewan Crown Corporation and a Federal Crown Corporation. There have been more applications over the years; nuclear medicine started getting developed in a big way in Canada in the sixties. Canada pioneered that technology, and since then we’ve had food sterilization and many other applications, and we’ve had the creation of Bruce Power, which is running the largest nuclear plant in the world. We have a lot of players now; our membership is a lot of engineering firms, laboratories, testing outfits, there’s some human resource organizations. We’re seeing more and more private engagement and more and more players.

Katrina Marsh: How does nuclear power currently feed into Canada’s energy mix?

John Stewart: Essentially the electricity sectors’ base load carrier, particularly post coal and particularly in Ontario, which is the largest and most industrialized province with the highest electricity demand. Nuclear reactors run very steadily and consistently around the clock. That’s why their economics are so good. One of the reason’s so they provide the supply for the power demand that’s there day and night, summer and winter, as opposed to things like natural gas and hydro that can be ramped up and ramped down over the daily demand cycle.

Katrina Marsh: So it kind of provides electricity that’s always on, day or night, doesn’t move. It just kind of provides what’s called the base load?

John Stewart: Right.

John Barrett: You know if you look at a couple of websites you can get a good insight, visual insight, into what is the energy mix in Ontario at any given time. One of the websites is IESO and that is an independent electricity supply market but what they have is an up-to-date within-the-hour presentation of what exactly in Ontario is that mix so you see how much of the electricity is being supplied by nuclear power generation, how much by hydro and by others. That will give you a very clear idea that nuclear power is shouldering in Ontario at any given time at least fifty per cent. It sometimes dips to under forty per cent but it’s up to sixty at various times and as John Stewart says that’s why it makes it so reliable: it carries the base load for Ontario. Without that, as Duncan Hawthorne, who’s head of Bruce Power, likes to say, “You’ve got a huge gap and what would fill that gap?”

Katrina Marsh: One aspect of nuclear power, I think, that’s been getting a lot of attention is the fact that it doesn’t emit any greenhouse gas emissions. I personally was pretty surprised to learn that on a life cycle basis nuclear power actually had less emissions than photovoltaic solar panel systems as well as geothermal systems. Could you comment on the role nuclear power is expected to play in Canada or the global fight against climate change?

John Stewart: You’re absolutely right. It’s very low emitting, Katrina, and not just AGHGs but also in particulates and sulfur oxides and nitrous oxides so the things that actually make the air dirty and bad to breathe as well as the stuff that makes the climate heat up. One of the trends that’s going on in the electric power system, particularly with more rechargeable devices, and this will really happen with a smarter grid and more electric cars, is that the tops are being clipped off of the daily cycle of demand so that the demand cycle is being leveled out and flattened and that favours base load and makes it easier to use things like nuclear that run around the clock and less necessary to fill in the spikes in demand with fossil fuels. If you’re ramping up and ramping down with hydro each day, that’s less of a problem. But if you’re using natural gas, that’s half the emissions that coal would have, that’s a lot less than coal but that’s vastly more than solar, wind or nuclear. So the more we move towards rechargeable devices, the more we move to a smarter grid, the more tendency you’re going to have for base load to be a higher percentage of the overall output and if that base load is nuclear you’ll have a cleaner electricity system overall.

Katrina Marsh: So by rechargeable devices you’re talking about electric cars?

John Stewart: Anything you plug in at night basically. If you’re charging things at night when power demand is low and using them during the day, if there are more devices on rechargeable batteries, you tend to have a flatter demand cycle and that’s a good thing on average.

Katrina Marsh: So nuclear power is well suited to what the future of electricity demand is going to look like in Canada in terms of just a flat line all the time rather than these spikes up and down that you see in seasonal variations and day and night variations?

John Stewart: Well, flatter, and particularly if you picture a world with a lot of electric vehicles. We’re some way away from that but electric vehicles that have large batteries in them and that are being driven in the day and charged at night make a big, big difference to what the daily demand cycle is going to look like. And a very positive one. It’s one of the overlooked but very important advantages of going to electric cars.

Katrina Marsh: Obviously climate is a big environmental issue but it’s of course not the only one. Nuclear power does have other environmental impacts associated with it, particularly in relation to the wastes and, some cases, water. What do you think is the benefit of such a low greenhouse gas generating source of emissions compared to some of these other environmental impacts?

John Stewart: I can say pretty much without a lot of qualification that nuclear wins on every count. I mean SOx and NOx emissions and particulates are very, very low and we’re getting data right now that will confirm that one more time. But more importantly, and this is especially important in a lot of densely populated countries and it’s even important in Southern Ontario, land use is very small for nuclear. The land footprint of a plant like the Darlington plant is a tiny fraction of what you’d need to put renewables in of the same capacity for that kind of power, and we’re talking about gigawatts of power to supply Ontario. You can’t get so much power out of such a small piece of land and often out of so little water use as you can with nuclear. Now on the waste front, it’s often said that this industry has a waste challenge, but that’s only true because our waste is solid. If we could grind – I say this semi-jokingly – if we ground our waste and blew it in the atmosphere like other fuels have been known to do, and still do, nobody would say we have a waste problem. We produce solid fuel, of which we account for every kilogram, and which we pay in advance for storing and decommissioning.

John Barrett: And it is stored on the sites of the power generators so it’s not being distributed across the country. It’s right there on the site.

John Stewart: Right. If the waste that comes out of burning natural gas didn’t go into the atmosphere but was packaged up in little cylinders which the natural gas industry had to subsequently manage indefinitely, the natural gas industry would have a bigger waste problem than we do. But it goes into the earth’s atmosphere instead.

Katrina Marsh: So Canada has its own nuclear technology, the CANDU reactor. Could you just describe a bit how this particular reactor differs, maybe in terms of its environmental impact from some other technologies?

John Barrett: Yes it is. It’s a homegrown technology and a very interesting one that has a number of years since it first saw the light of day. One of the important things about it is that it uses natural uranium so we don’t have to enrich it. In fact, all of the light water reactors used in many other countries require enrichment. Now why is that important? Well having been the Ambassador at the Atomic Energy Agency, we spent a lot of time there, Canada and other countries, dealing with the existence of enrichment capabilities in a country in which the credentials for non-proliferation, nuclear non-proliferation, are particularly strong. That country is Iran. They were developing a very highly sophisticated enrichment capability for no particular uses that could be justified. Enrichment is also the way that you, if you want, and you have to go through a number of hoops and hurdles over hurdles, but you can get to weapons’ grade materials. CANDU reactors don’t have to do any of that, so we in Canada don’t have an indigenous enrichment capability. So there’s one sort of environmental and non-proliferation dimension. And the other thing that’s interesting about the CANDU reactor is that there’s a lot of work now, and interest in, what they call advanced fuels. So you use unprocessed, I mean unenriched, natural uranium, but it’s not the only fuel you can use in these reactors. Now they’re looking at can you use uranium that has been passed through a reactor and then can be recycled through. So you’re getting a recycling component which is a good reduction of waste product. Another thing is it can burn plutonium mixes. So the British, for example, are interested in it because they have plutonium from their naval propulsion and weapons’ programs. They want to get rid of this. Plutonium’s not a nice product for sure. If you mix that in with other oxides you can produce a fuel that the CANDU can burn. And going even into the future there’s a possibility of not using uranium but thorium. And thorium does not produce deficient products in the same way as uranium does. And the CANDU can burn that too, so China’s quite interested and India because they have thorium.

Katrina Marsh: So if I get this straight the CANDU reactor is basically a fuel recycler for the nuclear industry. You can take spent fuels or even alternative fuels and use it in the CANDU reactor, which isn’t the same as some of the other technologies out there. Are there any places in the world currently using the technology that way or is that more future looking?

John Stewart: Yeah, there are. The Chinese are currently using CANDU reactors to burn mixed oxide fuels that have old plutonium, you know, and other materials in it. But the real future is in fuel re-use. The way we currently run nuclear reactors, we only get a little bit of the energy out of the fuel bundle. And there’s a remark made in the US Department of Energy and elsewhere that there’s really no such thing as nuclear fuel waste; there’s just nuclear fuel that we haven’t learned how to use properly. The potential to get the other 95 per cent of the energy out of that fuel is enormous. Right now, uranium’s relatively abundant and relatively affordable and probably will be for quite a while. But if we wanted to make a practice of reusing that fuel and reducing our waste stream, we could. And there’s quite a bit of work being done in that area, and CANDUS are one of the best ways to do that.

Katrina Marsh: In terms of what’s happening in Canada, what are some of the key policy issues that are facing the nuclear industry in Canada today?

John Barrett: Well, probably we should start with the province in which the nuclear power is used the most, and that’s Ontario. The two provinces using nuclear power are New Brunswick and Ontario but the lion’s share of reactors that the utilities have are based in Ontario. The Ontario government has its Long Term Energy Plan and it updates that Plan. And it is within that, that the members of our industry, particularly those who are the utilities, sort of make their decisions and shape their future. And so one of the policy decisions that has come from the Ontario government fairly recently at the end of last year was to refurbish; to re-service and redo the existing reactors, ten existing reactors, to get longer life out of them and have them going for another 20-25 years and beyond that. So that’s a very important policy framer we can start with. Another question is that of liability. It’s always been on the cards: the question of what happens should there be any type of accident and there is damage. Who pays for it? Etc. In Canada it’s always been the operator. The operator has to, that is the utility power operator, has to put money aside, funds aside, for the possibility that they may be liable for something. And what’s going before Parliament now, the government has introduced to raise that limit. I think a part of that is just a recognition that in the reality of today you need a higher limit and the utilities are quite in favour of it. They’re okay with it. They see the merit of that and are prepared to pay their premiums for their insurance and raise the liability so that people feel as if there is this industry is covering all aspects of its work, from waste, decommissioning reactors, waste liabilities, all aspects, safety, regulation. It’s the most regulated industry probably in Canada, maybe since, beside the airline and aerospace industries, for having to get it right and be watched all the time and having to account for everything that one does.

Katrina Marsh: Well, we’ve come up to our time. We promised our audience fifteen minutes or less.

John Barrett: If the listeners do want to know more about the Canadian Nuclear Association, about our members, and what we do, and some of the research that John Stewart is involved in; we’re looking at fuel cycles and greenhouse gas emissions, we look at the socioeconomic impact of the industry, the jobs that are created, the work created, especially in Ontario, please go to:

Katrina Marsh: Well, thanks so much for sitting down with me today.

Announcer: You’ve been listening to “The Voice of Business” The Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s podcast. For more information on this or any other issue please visit: