Tag Archives: Long-Term Energy Plan


UN Experts: Triple Nuclear Energy


By Romeo St-Martin
Communications Officer
Canadian Nuclear Association

In discussing climate change, politicians and media often speak of the need to increase “renewable energy” sources to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Not to get bogged down in semantics, but it would be more accurate to say that we need more “clean energy” sources. Clean and renewable don’t mean the same thing. For instance, nuclear isn’t renewable – the Earth has finite but extensive uranium resources. But nuclear is unquestionably a source of low-carbon electricity, and offers real potential in slowing down the concentration of climate-changing carbon in the atmosphere.

For example, did you know that nuclear power has the approval of the United Nations’ climate change scientific advisory body?

In April of 2014, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recommended tripling the amount of energy use from renewable energy and nuclear power in order to keep climate change within safe limits of two degrees Celsius.

The report recommends a massive transformation of energy policies, including calling for 80 per cent of electricity generation to come from low carbon sources, such as nuclear and renewable, by 2050.

“At the global level scenarios reaching 450 ppm (target for CO2 in the atmosphere) are also characterized by more rapid improvements in energy efficiency, a tripling to nearly a quadrupling of the share of zero- and low-carbon supply from renewables, nuclear energy AND fossil energy with carbon capture and storage (CCS) OR bioenergy with CCS (BECCS) by the year 2050,” the IPCC report states, as it clearly includes nuclear as part of the clean energy mix.

“Nuclear energy is a mature low-GHG emission source of baseload power, but its share of global electricity generation has been declining (since 1993). Nuclear energy could make an increasing contribution to low-carbon energy supply, but a variety of barriers and and risks exist,” the IPCC added.

The IPCC report is meant to offer guidance to policymakers.

Not surprisingly, nuclear is a part of U.S. President Barack Obama’s climate-change mitigation plan.

“The president continues to see nuclear energy as an important part of a diverse energy portfolio, and it’s part of his goal of doubling the national share of electricity from low-carbon energy sources by 2035,” U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said in a 2013 speech to the American Nuclear Society.

For what it’s worth, Ontario is already well down this road. Its Long-Term Energy Plan calls for more renewable power sources – while continuing the province’s strong reliance on nuclear energy.

Nuclear Energy

Ontario’s Long-Term Energy Plan

The Ontario government’s Long-­Term Energy Plan, updated yesterday, continues to place a strong, justified reliance on nuclear power to meet Ontario’s electricity requirements.

Nuclear power is a safe, affordable and reliable way to generate the province’s “base load” power. Base load refers to the power supply that operates continuously through the day and night, and is always available.

Read more about nuclear and Ontario’s long-term energy plan on our website:
* Economic impacts
Environmental performance

Base load electricity in Ontario is produced by nuclear generating stations and large hydroelectric generating stations. It differs from “peaking” generation provided by smaller hydro stations, gas plants and renewable power sources (mostly wind and solar), from which Ontario draws electricity as demand rises during the day.

The main differences between base load and peaking generation arise from the cost per unit of electricity and the certainty of delivery.

Base load power produces the majority of electricity in the province. It provides all, or almost all, of the electricity when daily demand is at its lowest point, near 4 am.

Demand rises through the day as people wake up and begin to draw more electricity for their needs – at home, the office, at school, in industry, and so on. As demand rises, other generation sources begin producing power to meet the rising demand. The Independent Electrical System Operator balances demand and supply to ensure the province has sufficient power at the lowest price.

With coal disappearing from Ontario’s energy mix in 2014, the province’s most-affordable energy sources are hydro ($0.035/kWh) and nuclear ($0.056/kWh). Both energy sources require very large up-front investments in generating equipment, but these are paid off over periods ranging from 20 to 60 years.

It’s the same idea that drives consumers to buy houses rather than stay in hotels – the house needs financing, but the benefits are worth the investment.

Recently, declines in the price of natural gas have made it seem an attractive alternative to coal, hydro and nuclear energy. Some advocates contend that natural gas could displace all three – and especially nuclear, given the significantly lower investment needed to build gas plants.

This perspective omits two important facts. First, gas prices are volatile; they have risen before and will eventually rise again whenever supplies tighten up. Uranium prices have also proved volatile, but they make up a very small part of the total cost of nuclear energy. Nuclear generators don’t have the same need to pass price spikes along to the consumer.

Second, burning natural gas emits carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, compounding the challenge of climate change.  According to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, gas emits 29 times more greenhouse gas than nuclear energy (and coal 62 times more than nuclear).

A decision to use gas for base load generation would create carbon emissions around the clock. It would also reverse the progress Ontario has made in reducing carbon emissions by substituting nuclear energy for coal.

These are the reasons to favour nuclear energy as a source of base load power, and to add a diverse mix of other sources—gas, hydro, wind, solar and others—to ensure Ontario can meet peak demand.

Read more about nuclear and Ontario’s long-term energy plan on our website:
* Economic impacts
Environmental performance

CNA Responds Nuclear Energy

Half-Truths and Outright Lies about the Cost of Nuclear in Ontario

This Letter to the Editor is in response to an article that appeared in the news today.

Mr. Jack Gibbons of the Ontario Clean Air Alliance is using an Ontario Energy Board (OEB) report on Global Adjustments to twist the facts about the role nuclear power plays in providing clean, affordable, and reliable electricity in Ontario.

Mr. Gibbons takes one section of the report on Market Operations for 2010, and concludes that nuclear power is responsible for most of the price increases since 2006.

This isn’t correct. To better understand the costs of Ontario’s energy mix, plain and accessible information can be found in the provincial Auditor General’s December 2011 report.

Nuclear power provides more than half of Ontario’s energy. It does this reliably and at a low cost every day of the year, even when the wind doesn’t blow. Reasonably, it would be a large part of an energy bill, but Mr. Gibbons is ignoring basic math and calling it news.

Premier McGuinty understands the math and that’s why he’s committed to nuclear energy for the province in the Long-Term Energy Plan.

Nuclear has contributed reliable base load power and stable jobs for decades and will continue to do so for decades more. Our industry is committed to ensuring safety throughout all aspects of our operations and being responsible environmental stewards in all our communities.

Denise Carpenter
President & CEO
Canadian Nuclear Association