RC108 SeptOct2023 - Magazine - Page 32
“Canada has spent considerable time and money
on wind and solar energy programs, but it’s clear
that these renewable sources won’t significantly
accelerate the nation’s decarbonization agenda.”
Nuclear energy will power Canada’s net-zero agenda
by Tom Mosseau
ANADA HAS HISTORICALLY prioritized decarbonization.
Since the introduction of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1992, Canada has committed to reducing emissions and becoming a net-zero nation for the past three decades.
More recently, Canada’s Clean Electricity Standard
and the Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act
has further solidified the government’s climate change
commitments, promising to achieve carbon neutral power
grids by 2035 and national net-zero emissions by 2050.
Despite these commitments, many Canadians are
concerned about the ability to achieve widespread clean,
and relatively inexpensive, energy sources. Citizens
aren’t entirely misled by these concerns. Canada has
spent considerable time and money on wind and solar
energy programs, but it’s clear that these renewable
sources won’t significantly accelerate the nation’s
Utilities are also equally hesitant. There are significant
costs associated with transitioning to clean energy. Some
leaders are not confident they’ll be able to achieve the
necessary return on investments when upgrading transmission and distribution capabilities needed to support
renewable energy and intelligent operations in the forthcoming smarter, greener era. Despite many challenges,
Canada is still on the right track.
is vice president and
utilities leader with
Why nuclear—and why now?
There is one solution that Canadian utilities have already
explored, though arguably not to its fullest potential—nuclear energy. Currently, according to the World Nuclear
Association, 15 per cent of Canada’s electricity is fueled
by nuclear energy, but there’s still an air of caution surrounding this energy source. When people hear the word
“nuclear,” their minds typically go to tragic accidents and
weapons of mass destruction. And when utility leaders
RENEW CANADA – SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2023
hear that word, their thoughts jump to operational adjustments, costs, and risk implications. But it’s time we dispel
the negative connotation shrouding nuclear energy and
recognize it as the leading source of carbon-neutral power
in Canada. In fact, Canada and the rest of the world will
not achieve their net-zero targets without nuclear as there
is not enough electricity generation capacity with all the
other generation sources combined to meet the electrification demands of the future.
According to the International Energy Agency’s Net-Zero
by 2025 report nuclear energy is the world’s second largest
source of low-carbon electricity, and to meet global net-zero
goals, nuclear energy production must double by 2050.
These findings aren’t entirely surprising when you consider
that nuclear fission does not emit fossil fuel byproducts—
and removes harmful air pollutants. What’s more, according to the Canadian Nuclear Association, nuclear energy
requires very little land, produces minimal waste, and is
expected to introduce thousands of jobs in Canada as adoption rates increase over the next few decades—making it a
sound business investment for corporations and a promising opportunity for citizens. The Nuclear Energy Institute
argues that nuclear power is currently the most affordable
clean energy source in the world.
Scale over size
Countries around the world can learn a lot from Canada,
as the country is making big bets on the future of nuclear.
Since the introduction Natural Resources Canada’s Small
Modular Reactor (SMR) Roadmap in 2018 and the subsequent SMR Action in 2020, the country has been leading
nuclear adoption in the western hemisphere. And thanks
to the government’s recent investment of $970 million to
develop a grid-scale SMR at Ontario Power Generation’s
Darlington site, Canada will be the first G7 nation with a
commercial grid-scale SMR.