TORONTO—The Great Lakes region, made up of eight U.S. states and two Canadian provinces would be the world’s third-largest economy if it were a country – and much of it runs on nuclear power. Nuclear generates 30 per cert of the region’s electricity, as well as nearly 50 per cent of its emissions-free power.
As climate change and emission regulations continue to play an increasing role in policy, and jurisdictions fight to grow their economies, nuclear will continue to play an important role, a new report finds.
The report is a collaborative effort from Bruce Power, the Council of the Great Lakes Region and the Provincial Building & Construction Trades Council of Ontario.
Though nuclear has played a significant part of energy policy in the region for years, the focus on renewables such as wind and solar, have somewhat shrouded the energy source’s importance.
The report notes emissions-free nuclear power avoids emissions of 250 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, the equivalent of removing over 52 million passenger cars from the road. Nuclear’s economic importance to the region is also difficult to overstate. The 55 nuclear reactors in the Great Lakes directly and indirectly employ more than 80,000 highly-skilled workers annually through operations, manufacturing, support and contract work. Ontario’s current program to refurbish its aging reactors is a good example of ongoing employment.
Overall, the report found the region’s nuclear plants inject an estimated $10 to $12 billion a year into the Great Lakes economies through direct and indirect spending in operational equipment, supplies, materials and labour income.
“Over 90 per cent of this spending is done within each facility’s own region, creating a positive impact on local and state/provincial economies,” the report says.
Though new cleantech solutions are garnering much of the attention in the fight against emissions and climate change, nuclear’s place in the energy mix will continue to be significant.