Harper embraces the nuclear future

Climate-change anxiety breathes new life into nuclear power, and shifts Ottawa’s plans
JOHN GEDDES | May 7, 2007 |
Stephen Harper would seem an unlikely pitchman for nuclear power. When the Prime Minister launches into his familiar spiel about Canada as an emerging “energy superpower,” we all think we know what he’s talking about — he’s an Alberta MP, after all, and his father worked for Imperial Oil. Yet in a key speech last summer in London, his most gleeful boast was not about record oil profits, but about soaring uranium prices. “There aren’t many hotter commodities, so to speak, in the resource markets these days,” Harper joked to the Canada-U.K. Chamber of Commerce crowd. Then, noting that Britain is among those countries poised to begin buying new reactors for the first time in decades, he added: “We’ll hope you remember that Canada is not just a source of uranium; we also manufacture state-of-the-art CANDU reactor technology, and we’re world leaders in safe management of fuel waste.”
Macleans.ca – Canada – Features | Harper embraces the nuclear future

1 Comment
  1. SOLAR, NOT NUCLEAR
    You’re right, climate change is exciting the pro-nuclear lobby. But there is another option for Canada: a simple mature technology that can deliver huge amounts of clean energy without any of the headaches of nuclear power.
    I refer to ‘concentrating solar power’ (CSP), the technique of concentrating sunlight using mirrors to create heat, and then using the heat to raise steam and drive turbines and generators, just like a conventional power station. It is possible to store solar heat in melted salts so that electricity generation may continue through the night or on cloudy days. This technology has been generating electricity successfully in California since 1985 and currently provides power for about 100,000 Californian homes. CSP plants are now being planned or built in many parts of the world.
    CSP works best in hot deserts and, of course, there are not many of those in Canada! But it is feasible and economic to transmit solar electricity over very long distances using highly-efficient ‘HVDC’ transmission lines. With transmission losses at about 3% per 1000 km, solar electricity may be transmitted to anywhere in the US and Canada too. A recent report from the American Solar Energy Society says that CSP plants in the south western states of the US “could provide nearly 7,000 GW of capacity, or about seven times the current total US electric capacity”. There is clearly plenty available to meet all of Canada’s needs as well.
    In the ‘TRANS-CSP’ report commissioned by the German government, it is estimated that CSP electricity, imported from North Africa and the Middle East, could become one of the cheapest sources of electricity in Europe, including the cost of transmission. A large-scale HVDC transmission grid has also been proposed by Airtricity as a means of optimising the use of wind power throughout Europe.
    Further information about CSP may be found at http://www.trec-uk.org.uk and http://www.trecers.net . Copies of the TRANS-CSP report may be downloaded from http://www.trec-uk.org.uk/reports.htm . The many problems associated with nuclear power are summarised at http://www.mng.org.uk/green_house/no_nukes.htm .

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