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Wind and Solar vs Nuclear

image credit: https://naveco.ca/2021/03/11/wind-and-solar-energy-are-the-future-not-nuclear-power/
Wil Robertson's picture
Policy & Research Analyst Naveco Power

An analytical thinker, with a passion for promoting the sharing of our truths. Proud to further the causes of social acceptance, sustainability, and justice. Currently working at Fredericton...

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New Brunswick is the home of the only Nuclear Generating Station outside of Ontario. The Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station produces 39% of NB’s energy and has a capacity of 705MW. It has been running for 37 years and was built at an estimated cost of $1.4 billion (CAD). Refurbishments to the station were completed in 2012 at a cost of $2.4 billion, a billion dollars over budget (CAD). A billion dollars (CAD) could pay 32 051 people $15/hr for fulltime work, for one year. A further $500 million (CAD) has been spent to curb reliability issues that emerged after the costly refurbishment. For reasons both financial and energy-related, the conversation about nuclear energy and renewables is one that needs to be had here in New Brunswick. That is precisely the conversation this piece hopes to begin.  

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Overall, nuclear energy is riskier and has a worse environmental impact than wind energy, while wind is enormously less costly. The average levelized long-term price from wind power sales agreements has dropped to below 2 cents per kWh (USD). 

In our regional context, according to NB Power’s 2017 Integrated Resources Plan, wind power is cheaper as measured by the levelized cost of energy. Note that an IRP is their outlook on the future of the energy grid and needs of NB for the next 10-20 years. It is a rigorous study NB Power is mandated to create and release every three years. According to their IRP, Nuclear costs 13.1 cents (CAD) per kWh, as opposed to wind energy at 9.6-10 cents per kWh. This is more expensive than what NB Power bills homeowners for electricity. This is a shift from NB Power’s statistics in this same category from its 2014 edition of the same report, in which wind energy was more expensive. By NB Power’s numbers, wind energy is decreasing in cost and is cheaper than nuclear energy. Their numbers seem rather inflated as well, as in 2017 the Alberta Energy System Operator (AESO) had an average levelized cost of energy at 3.7 cents per kWh for wind energy power purchase agreements.

Wind, solar, and other renewables are the future. Nuclear, specifically Small Modular Reactors are an expensive, unprepared, risky, still to be developed power source that cannot meet the challenge of mitigating the effects of the on-going climate crisis. Global nuclear electricity production in terawatt-hours per year (TWh/yr) peaked in 2006. The percentage contribution of nuclear energy to global electricity peaked at 17.5% in 1993 and declined to under 11% in 2014. Nowadays annual global investment in nuclear is exceeded by investment in each of wind and solar. When completed, they will generate 5.1 GW while newly built renewables will generate a very conservative 131 GW or 25.7 times the amount of energy produced annually.

Many nuclear power plants take 10-15 years to build, whereas large wind farms take roughly 2-3 years. Building nuclear power plants also require companies not going bankrupt in the process. Then Toshiba owned Westinghouse Electricity Company went bankrupt in 2017 after it suffered from ballooning construction costs and other expenses coupled with delays in building two nuclear facilities in the southern United States. This failure led to Toshiba posting a $9.9 billion (USD) loss for that fiscal year. Westinghouse’s collapse at the hands of nuclear energy serves as a warning.

Smaller nuclear projects take less time than that to be sure, but still, carry many of the same risks. From these facts, it is clear to see that nuclear energy is on the decline, and therefore cannot and will not meet the energy needs of consumers to provide clean energy to combat the current climate crisis. To further compound this point, between 2007-2017 nuclear energy generation declined by 0.4% annually, worldwide. In that same period, wind grew by 20.8% annually, and solar grew by 50.2% annually. In the Canadian context, between 2005 and 2017, wind grew by 27 000 GWh and solar grew by 3 500 GWh. In New Brunswick, generation from wind power increased from none in 2005 to 7% of the total generation in 2018. Particularly in the province of New Brunswick, nuclear has remained costly, risky, and stagnant, while wind is growing rapidly, representing a prime opportunity for investment and development. Looking to the future, as we always do here at Naveco, in the decade to 2030, 188 new reactors would have to be connected to the grid worldwide to maintain the status quo, which is more than three times the rate achieved over the past decade, the World Nuclear Industry Status Report (WNISR) estimates. This makes it abundantly clear that solar and wind are the future and the fastest way to transition fully to clean energy. 

For those who suggest that nuclear, and SMRs are required to meet the ‘reliability challenges’ of wind and solar because the wind doesn’t always blow and the sun doesn’t always shine, we have one word: storage. Battery storage for solar and wind energy is increasingly less costly and rapidly progressing in its efficiency. Battery storage has been tried and tested, providing positive results and acclaim in Nova Scotia, PEI, and in NB by Saint John Energy. Saint John Energy has invested in battery storage as it is saving them $200 000 (CAD) annually. Cited in a Huddle article from January 3rd, 2020, Bill Marshall, a power sector consultant and former Director of Strategic Planning with NB Power, said the following in a blog post for Saint John Energy back in August of 2019:  

“This sort of large-scale battery is crucial to our power system if we want to truly deal with climate change and take full advantage of renewable energy”.  

Nuclear energy exists as a novelty of the past and cannot meet the challenge of facing our climate crisis. This is a bold statement to be sure, but one based entirely on reasonable fact. Firstly, nuclear energy poses some significant environmental and health risks. Most obviously, severely, and least likely of these are nuclear catastrophes. Whether they be Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, or Fukushima, the risks and consequences of these disasters are well documented and need not be illuminated here. But beyond the alarmism of possible (yet very unlikely) catastrophe, there are tangible environmental and health issues associated with nuclear energy. Nuclear physicist and nuclear supporter Manfred Lenzen found average life-cycle emissions for nuclear energy, based on mining high-grade uranium ore, of 60 grams of CO2 per kilowatt-hour (g/kWh), for wind of 10–20 g/kWh and natural gas 500–600 g/kWh. This coupled with the fact that we must store uranium in depositories for 100 000 years shows the significant environmental, and by extension, health risks posed by nuclear energy. Not to mention the scientific discourse that continues about the possible effects of nuclear energy on wildlife habitats. Meanwhile, wind energy gives us no concern whatsoever of the issues above, especially with direct drive turbines that do not have gearboxes. As to the impact of wind energy on wildlife habitats, there are numerous mechanisms in place to mitigate these effects, including Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs), along with the continuous research on the effects of wind farms on different species.

Nuclear energy, including Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, are a novelty. They are an innovation of another time, and SMRs remain a research and development opportunity, not an economic opportunity at present. Examples in New Brunswick’s own history with nuclear energy, along with numerous examples elsewhere, show the overwhelmingly negative economic potential of nuclear energy. Wind and solar energy is clean, affordable, efficient, quicker to build, less risky overall, and more rapidly developing than nuclear energy. Wind and solar energy represents the best opportunities we have at present to transition to clean, renewable energy.  

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on May 25, 2021

Many nuclear power plants take 10-15 years to build, whereas large wind farms take roughly 2-3 years. Building nuclear power plants also require companies not going bankrupt in the process

The economic viability over the course of the build is definitely important, as you highlight and as has been a death knell for some nuclear projects. But you also need to consider the long-term and don't nuclear power plants last a good deal longer than your typical large wind farm?

In the end, I think both tools will be essential in certain areas of the sector, and while businesses obviously are pitting one against another for their investment dollars, as a wide network of power resources there's going to need to be a lot of taking the carbon-free power we're able to get and make work in each region. 

Wil Robertson's picture
Wil Robertson on May 25, 2021

To the long-term, as pointed out in the piece, the question in response is at what cost? The scale required to replace the production of nuclear by wind and solar is great, yes, but at the same time its infinitely cheaper. With large-scale wind farms we're still speaking in millions, not billions like the production and upkeep of nuclear. 

At the same time, yes both sources are needed depending on the market. New Brunswick is certainly one of those markets, as pointed out in the piece as well.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on May 25, 2021

"This piece is an analysis in favour of wind and solar as opposed to nuclear energy in the Province of New Brunswick, Canada. Note that I am not opposed to nuclear."

Wil, even if it wasn't for these self-contradictory statements your article makes it clear that you're opposed to nuclear energy - in New Brunswick or anywhere else.

Without attempting to address the myriad talking points you offer from the playbook of anti-nuclear mythology, I will note harnessing the power of wind to mill wheat and pump water was of tremendous benefit centuries ago. But it's encouraging to see Canada recognizes 21st-century technology, and independence from the vagaries of weather, will be necessary to address the needs of our own time.

Wil Robertson's picture
Wil Robertson on May 25, 2021

Hi there, as opposed to getting degrading, this piece is meant to spark a discussion. Slights at another simply due to a difference of opinion are only self-reflective. If one is to look at solar and wind, and understand their continued development, they would see rather quickly that they are independent of weather, and indeed vastly different to windmills for the milling of wheat. 

 

The facts within this piece are sourced, and stand on their own merit. What I will say, as I was attempting to say in the line you've highlighted, and as Matt showed, is that development of nuclear here, in the context of this small Canadian Province, is financially illogical. To Matt's point, and partially to yours, and the Canadian government's for that matter, nuclear is needed to reach net-zero emissions targets on time to make a significant difference, as a Nuclear activist, I'm sure you know this. 

The context here, as it is shown in this piece, is that deep financial mismanagement, in tandem with the pricy nature of nuclear (pricier than wind by some distance per utility figures), has burdened our development of energy resources here in NB. This comes in addition to minimal solar energy policy in New Brunswick, and the cancellation of wind power projects until 2033 at the earliest, announced earlier this fall. As clearly stated in the piece, multiply, this context matters to understand the reason for writing it. As I said, admitedly poorly, I am not against nuclear, because I'm realistic. As Matt pointed out, we need it. Thank you for your comment. 

Mark Silverstone's picture
Mark Silverstone on May 31, 2021

"...development of nuclear here, in the context of this small Canadian Province, is financially illogical."

That applies, only more so, to much of the developing world in Latin America, Africa and south Asia and to much of China.   As North America and Europe decarbonize over the next ten years with solar, wind, hydro, batteries, geothermal and conservation, the future is increasingly in the hands of the developing countries.  It is to be hoped that they will follow the lead of the developed world.

Nuclear may indeed offer some advantages in some situations at some point in the future, at least 9 years away.  For the foreseeable future, it is irrelevant.

Wil Robertson's picture
Wil Robertson on May 26, 2021

Precisely. In Latin America, (Peru, Colombia, and Brazil are examples of this) they are utilizing wind and solar to expand their grid and transition from diesel generators. In nations that do not have the oversight, or the professionals to work in the nuclear field, wind and solar are the prime option. Much of the Carribean has followed this route as well, along with south-east Asia. Heck, even the U.K. has shifted heavily in favour of off-shore wind. In the case of SMRs, as you point out, even our government predicts they are 10 years out at the earliest. 

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on May 26, 2021

Wil, my apologies if you feel slighted, but it's obvious to your readers, for example, neither wind nor solar is independent of weather, and that if you don't provide references your opinions aren't "sourced". My criticism was directed at them, not you.

Upon further reflection, I think you'll find it isn't solar energy policy that's minimized in New Brunswick but sunlight at northern latitudes. And with a little investigation you'd discover it's not necessary (or desirable) to store spent nuclear fuel for 100,000 years (because the most radioactive isotopes decay the fastest, after 2,000 years spent fuel will be no more radioactive than the ground you walk upon every day).

This is the mythology to which I refer - it's ingrained in our culture. And when we fear ideas we don't understand, it's natural to retreat into ones we do understand. Physicists and engineers appreciate that, and for decades have expected and hoped the public would become more familiar with the dangers and benefits of nuclear energy. But the urgency of preventing changes to climate that will last 100,000 years, and render at least one-third of all life on Earth extinct, prioritizes action - moving forward. Retreating into ideas of the past simply because we find them more comfortable is no longer an option.

Mark Silverstone's picture
Mark Silverstone on May 31, 2021

It would be nice if you provided references, as you suggest to others!  You provide glib assertions, not facts based on verifiable references. Sure, there are myths that need to be challenged.  But they are predominantly from the purveyors of nuclear, like the World Nuclear Association.

Here´s what the Germans are planning on for nuclear waste management:

On the basis of calculated nuclide inventories, decay characteristics of spent fuel mass cooled in wet or dry storage facilities were derived. Time-dependent behaviour of radioactivity, decay thermal power, and radiotoxicity were evaluated over a 10,000-year period. For both ingestion and inhalation radiotoxicity, the monitoring was extended up to 1,000,000 years, since such a long period can be relevant for human intrusion scenario into a geological repository.

Try to keep up! 

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on May 31, 2021

Hindawi? You must be kidding. Anyone can get published on that site - even Germans embarrased by their lack of climate progress.

Here's a reference to how long nuclear waste is dangerous (half as long as I thought it was).

Here's a link to why there's less solar in New Brunswick than on the equator.
 

Let me know if you need more help.

Mark Silverstone's picture
Mark Silverstone on Jun 2, 2021

We´ve been here before. But all right. Please see this:

"Transuranic Waste is material contaminated
with radioactive elements heavier than
uranium, such as plutonium, neptunium,
americium and curium. These elements have
extremely long hazardous lives—hundreds of
thousands to millions of years—and emit
alpha radiation a type of radiation that is
especially dangerous if inhaled or swallowed."

Essentially it largely, though not completely,  comes down to alpha emitters and it depends on what you call "dangerous".  After 1000 years or so,  as in your reference:

"Transuranic wastes, sometimes called TRU, account for most of the radioactive hazard remaining in high-level waste after 1,000 years."

So, sure. If you are certain that nuclear waste in the form of TRU waste, is not ever going to be ingested or inhaled, 1000 years might do. Unfortunately, these things do have a tendency to get where they shouldn´t be, like into drinking water, or into the atmosphere, especially over time, where even nanogram quantities are extremely dangerous.  As it stands now, if there are any humans on earth in a thousand years, they will not be pleased when/if they happen to disturb TRU impacted waste that was handled as though it were not problematic after 1000 years.  That is precisely the "out of sight, out of mind" mentality that we find most abhorrent today.

Glib assertions of the non-danger nature of nuclear waste are misleading at best, lies at worst.  I don´t think most people would be comfortable knowing that what passes for non-dangerous to you is "especially dangerous if inhaled or swallowed."

I know that my training and experience with nuclear isotopes emphasized that the alpha emitters we used were, indeed, dangerous if not handled properly.

This is not to say, however, that there is not a solution. Deep geologic isolation (See https://www.deepisolation.com/) provides a possible answer.

But, first, the nuclear industry must acknowledge that there is a problem and that it is not just in the imagination of the "public".  In the US, the problem presently belongs officially to the Federal Government.  But, the nuclear industry will never be trusted as long as they deny the problem. 

And they shouldn´t be.

Other national authorities, such as those in Germany, are taking a much more responsible position.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Jun 3, 2021

Mark, I won't dignify propaganda from the irrational ideologues at the "Nuclear Information and Resource Service" with a response. Before you post this trash, you should take a look at who's writing it: no one with formal training in physics, radiation, engineering, or any other subject which would entitle them to have an opinion on the subject.

I've told you this before, but you're not listening: there is an inverse corrolation between the duration of a material's radioactivity and its danger, i.e., the most dangerous isotopes decay the fastest. Plutonium-239, with a half life of 24,000 years, is safe enough to hold in your hands (alpha radiation doesn't penetrate skin). Uranium-235, the substance from which the bomb core that destroyed Hiroshima was made, is even safer - it has a radioactive half-life of 700 million years. Together with radon and potassium-40, it's relatively common in potatoes, carrots, and other tubers:

"As with carrots, white potatoes offer between 1 and 2.5 pCi/kilogram of radon-226 and 3,400 pCi/kilogram of potassium-40. Foods made from potatoes, such as chips and french fries, are similarly slightly radioactive."

If you really want to worry about radioactivity, worry about eating potato chips. Better, worry about ambient radiation from atomic weapons testing in the 1950s-60s. It's thousands of times more dangerous than anything that's come from a nuclear power plant. You could worry yourself silly!

"I know that my training and experience with nuclear isotopes emphasized that the alpha emitters we used were, indeed, dangerous if not handled properly."

What is your training and experience with nuclear isotopes, Mark? I was under the impression your training was in the oil industry, and that you still work for Royal Dutch Shell - a company that's working overtime to replace clean nuclear electricity with the dirty fossil fuel kind. Do you? It's a subject you seem to want to avoid.

Michael Keller's picture
Michael Keller on Jun 8, 2021

Having been in the the world of operating nuclear plants for a long time, we were more concerned with gamma radiation than alpha radiation. Alpha radiation needs to be viewed in the context of getting into the body, sticking around for a while, and the toxicity of the chemical. Unless someone is intent on digging up nuclear waste and eating it or inhaling it, really not that bid a deal. 

Jim Stack's picture
Jim Stack on May 26, 2021

Wil, a great article. Yet I didn't see the water use mentioned. A Nuclear plant needs lots of water for cooling. They are usually located near water and they include fault lines. 

   Another big factor is having power at your home or business. That is very easy with Solar and not to bad with wind but who would want a Nuclear reactor near your home. So distributed energy wins again.

   Also which power is Renewable? Certainly not Nuclear. So the safe power, fastest and lowest cost to install and run is solar and wind. Nuclear is not even close. 

     Battery storage like the Tesla Mega Power Packs makes renewable energy including hydro even better. My home runs on an energy positive Solar system. I made 30% extra this past year and used no water , made no pollution with no other fuel than clean sunshine. I have had zero cost for over 20 years and have saved over $60k so far. It's the best way to go for everyone. 

    How do you power your home ?

Wil Robertson's picture
Wil Robertson on May 26, 2021

Great insight Jim, thank you. While nuclear can indeed benefit the grid as a whole, I agree with you on the individual uses of solar in particular. In my work, we focus almost entirely on marketing to business owners and homeowners to garner the savings you have personally experienced. Sadly, government policy here is not so welcoming to this. As to Tesla's larger battery packs, in Nova Scotia, their utility has actually worked on a pilot project recently to use their Mega Power Packs in tandem with wind farms. Very exciting developments, to be sure. 

Michael Keller's picture
Michael Keller on Jun 2, 2021

The article is pure propaganda for the green energy mafia hell-bent on lining their pockets at the expense of the poor and middle class. All those happy folks frolicking around wind turbines clearly do not live next to the massive machines  - actually, they cannot because of the dangers associated with debris thrown off from the massive blades.
 

Solar energy in New Brunswick is utterly daft as the level of solar incidence is very small. Wind may have some applications, but the intermittency issue is tough to overcome from an economic standpoint. Canada has a lot of hydropower. Try that instead of I’ll-conceived over reliance on wind and solar.

The best approach is a balanced use of different energy resources. Excessive reliance on a single source (particularly unreliable sources) is exceptionally unwise from an economic standpoint as the region’s entire economy could be upended by the unexpected. Some small nuclear plants may have merit, but really need take a look at the region’s net energy needs. My hunch is New Brunswick energy needs are relatively small, but reliability is a key consideration (as in life and death) in a region that gets bitterly cold.

Michael Keller's picture
Michael Keller on Jun 2, 2021

By the way, the concept of net zero carbon is profoundly ill- conceived and utterly out of touch with reality. The policy driver should be economics. Cost effective solutions invariably have reduced emissions thus achieving a realistic and practical approach for improving the environment while avoiding draining everyone’s pocketbooks.

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on Jun 3, 2021

Wind and Solar vs Nuclear

What nuclear? 

Nuclear generation WW still hasn't gotten back to its 2006 peak.

Meanwhile Wind & Solar are adding almost 300 TWh/year...

Wind and Solar vs Nuclear = two ships going in opposite directions.

There is no comparison.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Jun 7, 2021

What wind and solar? Except in Renewables Fantasyland, it doesn't exist. You must be thinking of wind-solar-gas (WSG), the combination that's increased carbon emissions by 564.8 million metric tons over the past decade.

You're right, there is no comparison - nuclear has prevented 125 million metric tons that might have been emitted by WSG!

 

 

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on Jun 7, 2021

The current best case for nuclear is that it is running in place...

The worst case is that nuclear is going backwards. As of 2019 WW nuclear generation still has not caught up with 2006 peak. 

Plus in UK news today...

EDF Energy permanently closes Dungeness B nuclear plant in southern England

EDF Energy, the owner and operator of the UK's operational nuclear fleet, said June 7 that it was, with immediate effect, closing and moving to defueling the two advanced gas-cooled reactors at the 1,250-MW Dungeness B nuclear plant in Kent in southern England.

The company said in a statement that both units of the plant had since September 2018 been in an "extended outage" in which EDF Energy had been "managing a range of unique, significant and ongoing technical challenges not found" at the other six AGR power stations in the UK.

Although many "have been overcome, new detailed analysis has further highlighted additional station-specific risks within some key components, including parts within the fuel assemblies," EDF Energy added.

Although EDF Energy noted that the plant, which started operations in 1983, "operated 10 years longer than its original design life," the closure still represents a further setback for the company's plans to continue operating its existing fleet of AGRs until at least the late 2020s.

EDF Energy has already announced plans to close its 990-MW Hunterston B plant in western Scotland and its 940-MW Hinkley Point B plant in western England more than one year early due to graphite cracking issues.

EDF Energy had repeatedly said publicly that it intended to operate Dungeness B until at least 2028 and potentially longer.

Nuclear - one step forward - two steps back.

 

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Jun 8, 2021

"Nuclear - one step forward - two steps back."

You have it backwards, Joe - UK is replacing old plants with bigger new ones:

"Sizewell C

The project has completed its stage 4 consultation, which is allowing EDF to submit its planning application which is expected to be at the start of 2020, before a decision is made on the plant's future in 2020. After this, construction is expected to start around 2021, with an accelerated timeline due to the replication of the Hinkley point C power plant on the site. On 27 May 2020, EDF energy put in a development consent order application, prior to the start of construction at the site."

Since Brexit, even radical UK antinukes are recognizing Germany's Energiewende - a disaster in slow motion - was stalling EU climate progress:

"In 2020 Energy Systems Catapult analysis suggested new 10 GW nuclear power in order to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

In June 2020 Zion Lights, spokesperson of Extinction Rebellion UK declared her support for nuclear energy as a critical part of the energy mix along with renewable energy sources and called fellow environmentalists to accept that nuclear power is part of the 'scientifically assessed solutions for addressing climate change'."

Don't be the last holdout...the train is leaving the station!

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on Jun 8, 2021

You have it backwards, Joe - UK is replacing old plants with bigger new ones:

Really? Let's get back to the real world. Below is chart of fuel share in UK since 2010.

Nuclear supply down 16 TWh in last 5 years. Wind and Solar up 42 TWh.

Any recovery for nuclear in 2021?  So far - thru April down another 10%..

Meanwhile Hinkley plant is now scheduled to be completed in 2026? another 5 years?! What are the chances of that being delayed again?

Firms supplying parts and raw materials have also fallen behind. Overall, EDF admitted the project has gone about six months behind schedule. 

The plant is due to open in June 2026 and not in 2025 as planned and will cost between £22bn and £23bn.

Back in 1998 Nuclear provided 98TWh of supply to the UK grid. It is now supplying less than half that amount.  Hinkley and Sizewell(it that ever gets built) will only bring nuclear back to its current level. 

So like I said one step forward - two steps back.

By the way you said:

Sizewell C

The project has completed its stage 4 consultation, which is allowing EDF to submit its planning application which is expected to be at the start of 2020, before a decision is made on the plant's future in 2020. After this, construction is expected to start around 2021,

How's that going - what decision was made in 2020? Has construction started?

Meanwhile wind/solar will keep plugging along adding a few TWh of supply each year - doubling from their current amount by 2030. Someone's gotta do the work - we certainly can't depend on nuclear.

Moray East generates first power offshore the UK

 

Ross Horgan's picture
Ross Horgan on Jun 13, 2021

The choice is not between renewable and nuclear power, it is between severe climate change and decarbonized energy systems. Building as much zero-carbon power as possible – whether it is solar, wind, nuclear power, or something else - is necessary for global decarbonization.
Battery storage can support for a few hours, not days.  As I write this comment 87% of PEI's electricity is from nuclear-powered New Brunswick.  Ontario wind power currently at 2% capacity factor. Supply all week has been overwhelmingly nuclear and gas. The wind hasn't produced enough this week to make wind+storage viable. What kind of economy could an all-renewable electricity grid support and at what cost?

Nuclear provides well-paying union jobs for the province of New Brunswick.  One of the major cost savings of solar and wind is that construction is not completed within New Brunswick, or Canada.
"The World Nuclear Industry Status Report" is entirely an anti-nuclear publication with an official-sounding name.
The small modular reactors being constructed in New Brunswick are not pressurized and have therefore eliminated the risks of Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, or Fukushima.
The CNSC requires financial guarantees that ensure there are funds available for decommissioning, as a result, nuclear is the only energy sector that manages comprehensively ALL of its waste byproducts. Both with respect to site decommissioning and used fuel management.
I wished we lived in a world with a simple solution like wind and solar to combat climate change, but that is not the world we're in.  This article is spreading misinformation about what is achievable with a solar/wind-only approach.  Home in New Brunswick climate activists like Gordon Dalzell have recognized that they were wrong to oppose nuclear power.

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Jun 14, 2021

Nuclear provides well-paying union jobs for the province of New Brunswick.  One of the major cost savings of solar and wind is that construction is not completed within New Brunswick, or Canada.

An interesting point-- of course having local, good jobs is a great benefit, though you also have to question whether that's the end goal or just a nice additional point to have. For example, if it was the binary choice between good paying jobs with a local coal plant or more imported non-job-supporting renewables, the fact that coal created jobs wouldn't necessarily be enough to justify the choice to lean into just that, would it? 

Ross Horgan's picture
Ross Horgan on Jun 15, 2021

The choice is not between renewable and baseload power, it is between severe climate change and decarbonized energy systems.
A better hypothetical question would be should we invest in the research and development of wave power?  The cost of wave power is almost twice of nuclear, but it makes sense to invest in well-paying union jobs supporting research and development for wave power as we have the highest tides in the world.  We need to play to our strengths.  Nova Scotia is leading in wave power, and like solar it will come down in cost through research and development.
Similarly, we are one of two provinces with commercial nuclear power generation experience.  By investing in small modular reactors we are creating new revenue streams for the province of New Brunswick.
We need to be building wind and solar while in parallel investing in future non-emitting technologies that provide baseload power.

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