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In order for Canada to reach its climate targets the Minister of Natural Resources Seamus O’Regan says Canada must expand its capacity for nuclear power.
“As the world tackles a changing climate, nuclear power is poised to provide the next wave of clean, affordable, safe and reliable power,” said O’Regan, speaking at the annual Canadian Nuclear Association conference.
There were over 900 people in attendance at the conference, the largest in the industry. Held in Ottawa, there were dozens of major companies present as well as provincial cabinet minister from Saskatchewan and Ontario. Last December, Saskatchewan, Ontario and New Brunswick signed a memorandum to work on small modular reactor technology together.
Small modular reactors was one of the main subjects of discussion because although those units produce less power than large generating stations, they can be constructed easier and are expected to operate more safely. Currently there are six proposed reactors being pushed through the regulatory process by Canadian firms, according to the National Post.
The long term goal would be to have the larger units replaced with a group of smaller units. The industry is also hoping to install units in rural or isolated communities, oilsands projects and mines which could potentially phase out diesel powered generators.
“We have been working so hard to support this industry. We are placing nuclear energy front and centre, something that has never been done before.” said O’Regan at the conference on Thursday.
“People need to know that it’s safe. They need to know that it’s regulated. They need to know that it’s safe for them,” he said.
The switch to small modular reactors would also help with the Liberal’s campaign promise that they would gradually reduce Canada’s carbon emissions. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he expects Canada to be carbon neutral by 2050.
How such a goal will be achieved is still unclear however, nuclear energy playing a major part is now being widely understood.
“I have not seen a credible plan for net zero without nuclear as part of the mix. I don’t think we are going to be relying on any one technology. I think it’s going to be a whole host of things.”
It will be countries on track to net zero emissions that will get the largest investors interested said O’Regan.
“Everybody has their shirt sleeves rolled up and we know we need to work on this, not only do we have to work on this for the urgency of the planet, but we have to work on it for Canadian jobs.”
He added, “We must focus on those areas where Canada can and should lead, like nuclear.”