Canada’s offshore wind could deliver more energy than nuclear power. The aging CANDU nuclear reactors are being refurbished at substantial cost in an effort to keep them up and running for a few more years. But this is only a stopgap measure.
The six reactors at Pickering will be shut down before 2024; the reactors at Bruce, Darlington and Lepreau will continue to generate power for perhaps a decade or so; but the era of power generation from the CANDU reactors in Canada is drawing to a close.
Canada has committed to reducing its emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) by 40 to 45% below 2005 levels by 2030, and to achieving net zero emissions by 2050. The federal government has made it clear that it considers nuclear power essential for meeting these goals. In 2020, minister Seamus O’Regan, at that time the minister of natural resources in the federal government, stated in a keynote address to the Canadian Nuclear Association, “Our government understands the importance of nuclear energy in meeting our climate change goals…We are placing nuclear energy front and centre.”
But the nuclear technology the federal government is pinning its hopes on is not the CANDU design. The concept now being strongly promoted by the government is small modular reactors (SMRs). An action plan has been launched; the obligatory roadmap has been drafted and published.
At the present time, this action plan is more wishful thinking than a realistic scenario. No prototype SMR has been constructed; the final design has not even been selected from the ten technical proposals currently under consideration. The government’s claim that SMRs will help Canada meet its 2030 emission reduction targets is simply not credible.
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