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Ottawa says nuclear has its place among renewable energies

Photo: Sean Kilpatrick The Canadian Press Minister François-Philippe Champagne considers nuclear energy as part of the renewable energies which must continue to grow to support the country's shift towards the “21st century economy”.

Chuck Chiang – The Canadian Press in Vancouver

12:41 p.m.

  • Canada

According to the federal minister responsible for innovation and industry, Canada risks not attracting green industries if it does not consider all options for renewable electricity, which would include nuclear energy.

François-Philippe Champagne said in an interview with The Canadian Press that he considers nuclear energy to be part of the renewable energies that must continue to grow to support the country's shift towards “economic of the 21st century.”

“Nuclear, definitely,” Mr. Champagne said Friday. In my opinion, we have to look at hydroelectricity, we have to look at nuclear power, we have to look at small modular reactors, we have to look at wind power, we have to look at solar power. »

Small modular reactors (SMRs) are a type of advanced nuclear power plant that, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency, can be prefabricated and shipped to sites not suitable for larger conventional reactors. The federal government has previously stated that it aims to become “a global leader in the deployment of [PRMs].”

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“I can tell you that when investors call me, they don’t want subsidies,” Mr. Champagne emphasized.

“They’re looking for renewable energy, they’re looking for talent, they’re looking for the right ecosystem, they’re looking for market access. So I would say that today, renewable energy is essential to attract investment, and that is why we are going to be there. »

Canada has announced a number of new investments designed to integrate with so-called “green” supply chains globally in recent years. Among them is the expansion of the E-One Moli battery cell plant, a billion-dollar investment announced last November, in Maple Ridge, British Columbia, to manufacture high-performance lithium batteries. performance. The factory aims to produce up to 135 million batteries per year.

Officials with battery maker E-One Moli said part of the reason the Taiwanese parent company chose Canada for expansion was the availability of renewable energy for production.< /p>

Mr. Champagne noted in a previous interview that Canada was reaching its limits on renewable energy production, which he reiterated in Vancouver when he stressed that nuclear technology was a key part of the solution.

“I think you have to look at all renewable energy sources, and I think British Columbia, like Manitoba or Quebec, is certainly lucky to have hydroelectricity “, he said.

“Often I say we live on the dividends of the people who came before us in renewable energy. Now, for us, I think the dividend that we need to leave to the next generation is to make sure that we make the necessary investments in order to continue to develop our natural resources in a sustainable and responsible manner. And obviously, renewable energies have become essential. »

Nuclear power is not unanimously approved

Mark Winfield, professor of environmental and urban change at York University, said the federal government's recent inclusion of nuclear power among options for decarbonizing electricity generation is disturbing.

“Yes, compared to fossil fuel sources, [nuclear] carbon emissions are relatively low,” the professor said. But this involves a large and serious number of compromises. In fact, it fails every other durability test. »

One of Mr. Winfield's concerns is the high initial capital costs when building nuclear power plants, which have previously led to cost overruns and delays in Canada.

He also expressed concern about nuclear waste management “on a million-year scale” as well as the impact of uranium mining.

Nuclear supporters emphasize the reliability of nuclear energy, because production does not depend on weather conditions, as is the case for solar and wind energy.

George Christidis of the Canadian Nuclear Association said the strength of nuclear power lies in its ability to provide “emissions-free baseload electricity generation.”

“This translates into more clean energy production, which will then help decarbonize other sectors,” he added.

Mr. Christidis said that while nuclear power plants have high initial capital costs, those costs are amortized over a longer period than other power plants, meaning more stable costs than facilities subject to the vagaries of fuel prices fossils.

He said the potential for small modular reactors is enormous, as other countries will look to Canada to produce such reactors to decarbonize electricity production.

In Canada, small nuclear reactors (SMRs) of various sizes are being planned or explored in Ontario, Saskatchewan and Alberta. Christidis said they could be key to moving away from coal use in those provinces.

However, Mark Winfield believes that we must be wary of the real potential of these small modular nuclear reactors, because their design has not yet been carried out.

“No one has built a PMR anywhere,” he said. That's part of the problem: they don't exist, even in prototype form. »

Winfield said that even beyond the cost and waste management aspects, nuclear power poses too many risks to be considered as part of Canada's bid to bring in more green industries.

“There are catastrophic accidents, safety risks, security risks, weapons proliferations, which simply do not exist compared to any other energy technology… all of which suggests that this technology would be an option of last resort when all other options around decarbonization have been fully developed and optimized,” he warned.

“I don’t think we’re at that point in Canada. »

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116