Toronto is a nuclear city. The power that keeps its nighttime skyline twinkling, its streetcars trundling, its bank machines churning, its smartphones pinging, its nightclubs throbbing, its hair dryers blasting, its hot tubs steaming, its skating rinks frozen and its softball fields lit on warm summer nights comes in large part from nuclear energy.
About 60 per cent of the electricity generated in Ontario comes from nuclear. About half of that comes from two huge plants, Pickering and Darlington, that sit on the Lake Ontario shore just east of the city, quietly splitting atoms and throwing off huge quantities of clean, reliable energy round the clock.
Torontonians barely give a thought to this inconvenient truth. Many are squeamish about the whole idea of nuclear energy, which summons up words like Chernobyl and Fukushima. Well, they had better get used to it. Like it or not, Toronto is going to rely on the atom for the lion’s share of its energy well into the foreseeable future.
We have all but run out of rushing rivers and roaring waterfalls to dam for power. Burning coal is no longer an option. The provincial government sensibly closed Ontario’s greenhouse gas-belching, coal-fired power plants. Natural gas has taken up some of the slack, but its price is volatile and it produces greenhouse gases, too.
Hopes that renewables will come to the rescue are pie in the sky. Wind, solar and bioenergy still account for just 9 per cent of Ontario’s electricity output despite the provincial government’s bungled, vastly expensive effort to promote them.
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