2003 July 8
The Ontario government has taken a major step forward in granting nuclear power the same “green energy” tax incentives for new development that it gives to natural gas and renewables (“Ontario extends tax breaks to nuclear-power plants”, July 8).
Ontario’s Independent Electricity Market Operator (IMO) has recently announced the need for 15,000 new megawatts of electricity over the next 15 years, including the replacement and refurbishment of aging plants. This represents roughly half of Ontario’s current generation capacity.
Supplying this quantity of electricity in a reliable and environmentally responsible fashion will require contributions from every state-of-the-art technology we can muster. Nuclear power can play a major role due to its low emissions and efficient use of natural resources.
“Made-in-Canada” CANDU reactors generate about half of Ontario’s electricity, and each month avoid the emission of over five million tonnes of air pollution and greenhouse gases. The benefits to Canadians over the last forty years include thousands of lives saved due to avoided respiratory illness.
The waste created by a nuclear plant is compact and manageable, and a technology exists for limiting the impact of this waste on the biosphere to essentially zero, for thousands of years, without the requirement for human intervention.
Crucial to this efficient management is the relatively small volume of nuclear waste: a single CANDU fuel bundle, about the size of a fire log, can provide an average Ontario home with 100 years’ worth of electricity. When discharged from the reactor, all waste materials from that electricity generation are retained in the fuel.
Our electricity demand and supply problems will be solved through diversity, cooperation, and ingenuity. The Ontario government has taken a significant step in levelling the playing field.