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Canada’s National Statement on Nuclear Energy 

Canada

Firstly, Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Natural Resources, assisted to the International Atomic Energy Agency 5th Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Power. Today, there is a pivotal moment in history. The war’s effects in Ukraine have significantly impacted Europe and far beyond.

Secondly, because of Russia’s illegal invasion, energy affordability and security are now at the forefront of international affairs. This conflict exposed the vulnerability of global energy markets. Also, it impacted the supply chains for many other key commodities and industries.

Thirdly Europe is looking to replace Russian energy imports with those from other countries while aggressively accelerating a transition toward non-emitting and more secure forms of energy, including renewables, hydrogen, and nuclear.

Changing economy

The global economy is changing. Smart money is flowing from assets that are not compatible with a transition to a net-zero world and toward opportunities that are. Around the world, financial markets are increasingly pricing climate risk into investment decisions.

However, the existential challenge of climate change and the current war in Ukraine has significant implications for nuclear energy.

As a result, governments are looking for secure, non-emitting forms of energy to provide the power required to eliminate unabated coal and natural gas combustion and to provide the significant amount of total electricity that will be needed if we are to achieve our climate goals. And nuclear energy is one of these available options.

Nuclear power

Countries that had not invested significantly in nuclear power for some time are now actively considering building new power plants and delaying the closure of existing ones.

Nuclear power has many advantages, it is non-emitting; it is safe; it provides baseload power; and, when produced correctly, it is affordable.

Canada´s role

Here Canada can play an essential role in addressing domestic energy requirements and exporting natural resources and technology to the world.

Canada began a legacy of nuclear excellence as the second country to produce nuclear power. Since then, it has been actively involved in promoting the peaceful use of nuclear energy worldwide.

Today, as a Tier-1 nuclear nation with over 70 years of technological leadership, a world-class regulator, and a robust domestic supply chain, its nuclear sector is poised to be a leader in an emerging global market that some estimate to be worth up to $150 billion a year by 2040.

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With Saskatchewan, Canada is home to the largest deposit of high-grade uranium. And it produces over 70 percent of the world’s supply of cobalt-60, the most common isotope used in radiation therapy and medical equipment sterilization.

Around the world, nuclear power has helped avoid about 55 gigatonnes of CO2 emissions over the past 50 years. It is the equivalent of two years of global energy-related CO2 emissions. As a reliable non-emitting energy source, nuclear provides roughly 10 percent of the world’s electricity.

A real opportunity

An essential part of the future of nuclear power lies in SMRs. This applies to existing and new technologies, like small nuclear reactors. And as an early domestic adopter of SMRs, Canada could realize a significant share of the global exports of technology, goods, and services.

The first Canadian SMR, a five-megawatt Micro Modular Reactor design, is set to be deployed in 2026 at the Canadian Nuclear Laboratories’ site at Chalk River, Ontario.

Recently, the Canada Infrastructure Bank announced a loan of $970 million to develop Canada’s first commercial SMR, a larger, 300-megawatt project that will come online at the Darlington generating station, also in Ontario, by 2028.

Federal support

The federal government has supported SMR development with programs like the Strategic Innovation Fund, which invested $20 million to advance Ontario-based Terrestrial Energy’s reactor design. Through the same fund, it invested $50 million to help develop New Brunswick’s Moltex Energy’s reactor and technology to recycle CANDU spent nuclear fuel into new fuel. And it invested another $27 million in financing for Westinghouse Electric to help advance microreactors in Saskatchewan.

The recent federal budget provided further significant financial and policy support to develop and deploy SMRs, advance uranium exploration and spur nuclear supply chain opportunities. This support included $70 million in research to minimize waste generated from reactors, create a fuel supply chain, strengthen international nuclear cooperation agreements, and enhance domestic safety and security practices. And it is investing $50 million for the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission to develop appropriate regulations for small modular reactors and to work with international partners on global regulatory harmonization.

All of these investments are in addition to the ongoing $1.2-billion revitalization of the federal Nuclear Laboratories at Chalk River.

The recent federal budget also expanded the role of Canada’s Infrastructure Bank, enabling it to invest in infrastructure projects that will accelerate Canada’s transition to a low-carbon economy, including through the use of small modular reactors.

Nuclear industry

There is a growing international interest in Canada’s nuclear industry from countries looking to pursue nuclear power as part of their energy security and climate objectives.

All of this activity and interest underlines the accelerating momentum in nuclear energy and highlights Canada’s desire to play a leadership role in this area.

Finally, is critically crucial that like-minded nations come together to ensure a sustainable future. Nuclear energy must be part of such a sustainable future; including Canada.

More information about Canada´s energy sources, here.

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