Nuclear energy is in the midst of a modest resurgence, according to a new report by Toronto-based think tank Ernst & Young.
The group unveiled the study—which states Canada is among 15 countries worldwide considering nuclear reactors in the largest resurgence of the energy resource since the 1980s—today at the World Energy Congress being held in Montreal.
“Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick are all investing in nuclear energy, and the Prairie provinces have considered it, despite the associated challenges,” says Stephen Power, leader of Ernst & Young’s Power and Utilities sector team.
“That said, there is still some reluctance as it’s not uncommon for these types of projects to be over budget and have missed timelines. And, of course, history reminds us accidents can occur.”
According to recent Ernst & Young research, the world is on the verge of a nuclear energy expansion with 65 reactors being built globally and another 120 being pursued.
The resurgence of the carbon-friendly resource over the past few years is mainly due to the demand for a more secure energy supply and zero-emissions power.
Power says nuclear energy has become an increasingly viable option within the global energy industry and appears ready to stay the course.
“Nuclear is an important clean energy resource, but it’s only part of the solution. We have to continue thinking about and sourcing renewable energies like wind, hydro and solar,” says Power. “Bringing a reactor online requires a long lead time. Renewable energies can be more readily available for use and, given current government support and programs, economically viable.”
Renewable energy is important to Canada and is finding increased support from provincial governments. This is exemplified by the “shift-to-green” Canada is experiencing through recently announced proposals and policies across the country, including legislation in British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec.
This resurgence could be a signifigant opportunity for Canada, says power, as we’re well positioned to be attractive to the global market for investment and as a supplier of products, technologies and expertise.
“Nuclear companies must dedicate themselves to developing more robust and detailed nuclear energy plans that show considerations for budgets and timelines,” adds Sonia Lacombe, leader of Ernst & Young’s Eastern Canada Climate Change and Sustainability Advisory practice. “More diligent risk management and assessments, and governance are necessary to avoid the mistakes and pitfalls that can occur with reactor builds and maintenance.”