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Canada to splurge $billions on non-existent small nuclear reactors, ineffective and no use against climate change

GIBBONS: Nuclear power no solution to climate change, Author of the article:, Jack Gibbons, Sep 25, 2020  At a time when action on climate change has never been more urgent, the federal Liberals want to throw billions of dollars at non-existent technology that will not make a difference for decades, if ever.

But that’s pretty much the way things have always been when it comes to federal spending on nuclear power: As long as the word “nuclear” is attached, we put common sense aside and fund projects that lead to one dead end after another.

More than $400 million for Advanced CANDU reactors that never got built? You bet. Another $600 million on the infamous Maple medical isotope reactor design, which proved unsafe to operate? No problem.

Now the industry’s latest pitch is Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) and off we go on another wild goose chase with Minister of Natural Resources Seamus O’Regan once again promising billions for technology that is nowhere in sight, let alone use.

Meanwhile, costs for wind and solar have plunged to the point where these energy sources are now outcompeting even natural gas.

Nuclear, for its part, is fading fast. Due to its high costs and safety concerns, nuclear’s share of the world electricity market has cratered in the past two decades. More places are now retiring aging reactors than building them.

The nuclear industry loves to claim they are a critical climate change solution — except on a cost per tonne basis.

Nuclear is like buying a Mercedes to go to the corner store.

Ontario pays as little as two cents a kilowatt hour (kWh) for energy efficient improvements that could displace the need for nuclear while reducing greenhouse gas pollution.

Alberta is now paying around five cents per kWh for solar and four cents for wind.

Ontario Power Generation says it will need to be paid 16.5 cents per kWh for nuclear by 2025.

A whole lot has changed since the bad old days of Ontario’s Green Energy Act.

Yes, the sun doesn’t always shine or the wind blow. Which is why it is fortunate that in Ontario we live beside a giant battery.

Quebec has an enormous water-power reservoir system that Hydro Quebec is keen to integrate with renewable sources for its out-of-province customers.

When we have surplus solar and wind, Quebec stores water. When not, it produces hydro power for export.

We have the connections necessary to make this system work and can expand them at a cost that looks like spare change next to what it costs to rebuild a nuclear reactor or get an SMR prototype built.

The nuclear industry is grasping at straws. Its technology is obsolete, its promises unfulfilled and its costs ever rising.

Betting on nuclear as a climate solution is just sticking our heads in the sand because SMR technology is decades away, extremely expensive, and comes with a nasty pile of security and waste headaches. Yes. Virginia, SMRs still produce lots of highly radioactive waste and we still have no place to put the stuff.

That our government would be this gullible is distressing, especially given the havoc already being wreaked by a changing climate.

We have simple, affordable, reliable and truly clean answers to our climate problem at our fingertips.

Yet our government sits and waits for the nuclear industry to call with some good news. And the phone never rings.

— Jack Gibbons is chairman of the Ontario Clean Air Alliance

September 26, 2020 - Posted by | Canada, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors

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