Is there a path to net zero without nuclear power?

There is little to no disagreement that mitigating the long-term impacts of climate change must remain at the top of our collective priorities from a global perspective. Canada has repeatedly affirmed its commitment to play a leadership role in efforts to decarbonise the global economy.

As part of his Budget 2021, the Trudeau government announced several bold commitments to enable a greener future, including its first-ever net zero strategy through Bill C-12 (armed with legally binding provisions and targets), a tax on nationally mandated carbon and potential nationwide ban on the use of plastics.

It is also evident that Canada remains steadfast in its commitment to advancing nuclear energy and, more specifically, small modular reactors (SMR) as part of its transformation into clean energy. In December, Natural Resources Canada released the very first SMR action plan, signaling its intention to firmly position SMRs in the country’s energy portfolio and a tangible path to transition economies away from their dependence on fossil fuels.

In Canada, COVID-19 has exacerbated long-standing problems of regional economic disparity and inequitable access to resources, including health care and energy, especially for northern and remote communities.

Since the start of the pandemic, the Canadian government and its provincial counterparts have made it a priority to ensure that people living in remote communities with limited access to local health care are well supported, in some cases through deployment. of the Canadian Armed Forces. However, much of this attention only spawns a short-term solution. It’s important for us to think about the big picture and try to understand the underlying issues that will no doubt continue if we don’t fix them.

By encouraging an intersection between technological innovation and nuclear energy, we can empower remote communities to become self-reliant. We have the opportunity to reinvent the way we power people’s lives through sustainable energy development. For example, U-Battery Advanced SMR the design has the potential not only to provide significant environmental benefits, but to enable a plethora of value-added economic and social benefits.

With promise comes risk, and one of the main concerns of some climate change experts has been how long it takes for SMR technology to demonstrate its viability and move from innovation to commercial use. The criticism being that waiting for SMRs to get through the regulatory process, while demonstrating their capabilities in a commercial setting, will prolong the very urgent climate crisis that must be addressed immediately.

It is imperative to understand that advanced nuclear is only part of a far-reaching solution to moving away from obsolete fossil fuel production and towards zero carbon energy projects, and we must include them. renewable energies like solar and wind power as well as hydrogen in addition to SMR. While there is no doubt that SMRs are likely to take longer compared to renewable sources that are already being rolled out, we need to think of a larger and longer-term situation as we strive to achieve our ambitions. net zero.

Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan said, “Canada can be a world leader in this promising, innovative, zero-emission energy technology, and this is our plan to position ourselves in an emerging global market. There is no way to net zero without nuclear power. “

Another criticism raised in the same National Observer This article focuses on nuclear waste and our ability to manage its environmental impact. While this is certainly an area where much remains to be done, it is important to note that advanced SMRs like the U Battery are expected to use significantly less fuel than today’s CANDU reactors. hui, which means that the refueling cycles would also be reduced considerably.

In addition, Canada is home to a leading nuclear waste management organization, the Nuclear Waste Management Organization, which is dedicated to the design and implementation of the canadian plan for the safe and long-term management of used nuclear fuel. This plan, known as Adaptive Phased Management, will require that used fuel be confined and isolated in a deep geological repository, thereby mitigating its long-term environmental impacts.

Relying solely on renewable sources without reaping the benefits of advanced nuclear technology is not the answer to the current climate crisis, writes Steve Threlfall of @U_Battery. # Nuclear Energy #NetZero #SMR

As climate change mitigation remains at the forefront of the Canadian government’s agenda, we must seek to marry the intangibles of clean energy technologies like RMS with broader regional infrastructure development initiatives. The true potential of SMRs could be harnessed by integrating them into larger infrastructure hubs that simultaneously provide other value-added applications for remote communities, including water purification, hydrogen production and heating. urban. With access to these capabilities, remote communities could become more self-reliant and have their own greenhouses, hospitals, recreational facilities and more.

The sheer size of Canada makes access to energy difficult in many parts of the country, and this inability to access energy has a number of unintended consequences. We must seek to leverage MRS to deal with more than just climate change. Additionally, we need to understand that relying solely on renewable sources without reaping the benefits of advanced nuclear technology is not the answer to the current climate crisis – a threat that is only growing. We have the potential to generate significant economic and social benefits as a by-product of building clean, low-carbon, locally integrated energy infrastructure in northern and remote communities across Canada.

Steve Threlfall is the Managing Director of U-Battery, which leads the design and technology development of its Advanced Modular Reactor (AMR) and Small Modular Reactor (SMR).

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