OPINION: To lead on climate, Canada should invest in the next generation of nuclear reactors – by Robert Bryce (Globe and Mail – March 14, 2020)


Robert Bryce’s latest book is A Question of Power: Electricity and The Wealth of Nations, from which this essay is adapted.

Coal use in Canada continues to decline. In 2018, the amount of electricity produced from coal was about 59 terawatt-hours, or roughly half as much as the country’s utilities were producing in 2000.

Canada was able to slash its coal use thanks to its reliable nuclear plants, an increase in natural-gas-fired generation and growth in renewables. But if you think the rest of the world is going to quit using coal, think again. A total of nearly 200 gigawatts of new coal-fired capacity is now under construction around the world in places such as China, India, Turkey, Vietnam, Pakistan, Indonesia, Bangladesh and the Philippines.

Furthermore, and perhaps most surprisingly, Japan, the birthplace of the Kyoto Protocol, the world’s first international agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions, is also building new coal plants, up to 22 of them.

While it won’t happen overnight, Canada could help reduce global coal use. How? By accelerating the development and deployment of the next generation of smaller, safer, cheaper nuclear reactors.

Before looking at how Canada might catalyze a surge in global nuclear capacity, it’s essential to understand coal’s role in electricity production. Coal has been a mainstay of power generation since Thomas Edison used it to fuel the world’s first central power station on Pearl Street in Lower Manhattan back in 1882. Climate activists want to see all coal-fired power plants shuttered.

For the rest of this article: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-to-lead-on-climate-canada-should-invest-in-the-next-generation-of/

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