Wind and solar can’t get Canada to Net Zero says president of Canadians for Nuclear Energy in committee testimony
April 26, 2022
Nuclear energy advocate Dr. Chris Keefer slammed wind and solar power as unreliable energy sources that can’t get Canada where it wants to go, and won’t help Canadian workers make a “just transition” away from fossil fuels.
In testimony before the House of Commons standing committee on Natural Resources in Ottawa yesterday, the president of Canadians for Nuclear Energy, said that nuclear energy should be “the keystone” in energy transition in Canada. Nuclear is a proven, “evidence-based technology,” he said, and will be the best way to transition workers from jobs in the coal industry, for example, to clean energy careers.
While not “punching down” on wind and solar, the emergency room physician said, the fact is that if Canada wants to move forward on a transition to cleaner energy to help the environment, wind and solar are not good solutions. Those industries are extremely well funded but despite “excellent PR and branding” Keefer said, they are intermittent and unreliable sources of power.
Wind and solar also use a long and insecure supply chain to access foreign-made components.
Nuclear, Dr. Keefer explained, is “96-percent made in Canada.”
Reliable energy, better jobs
As an emergency room doctor, Keefer said he knows that nuclear power helped Ontario make the transition from coal power, which resulted in cleaner air. That was the most significant move to help the environment in North America, and it serves as an example to the rest of Canada.
Nuclear does not just provide reliable energy 24/7 Keefer said, it also provides good paying jobs, and potential for economic growth. Every dollar invested in nuclear returns $1.30 to the economy, he said. Workers make six-figure salaries, and contribute to their communities.
On the other hand, wind and solar power offer only low-skill, temporary jobs in construction. After the power projects are up and running, they are “virtually workerless.”
Dr. Keefer told the committee that “Net Zero” will never happen without nuclear, and asked the Committee to recommend that the Justin Trudeau government add nuclear energy investment to the new Green Bond framework to help encourage a “nuclear renaissance.”
Responding to questions later in the committee meeting, Dr Keefer repeated his statement that Canada “desperately” needs “reliable energy”. The reality is that wind and solar have to be backed up by conventional power sources, usually natural gas, he added. He said that assertions wind and solar can be successful with battery storage are just “fairy tales.”
The topic of nuclear energy waste was also dealt with as Keefer said this is a highly regulated, technology-intensive component of nuclear power. At present, he said, nuclear waste in Canada comprises an area the size of a hockey rink.
Energy density, low cost
An important feature of nuclear is its density, said Dr. Keefer and Chad Richards of the Nuclear Innovation Institute. While wind and solar use up vast areas of land while producing little power, nuclear is a workhorse. The Pickering nuclear plant is the size of a CostCo, Keefer said, and provides power for the GTA. Reliably.
A committee member asked about the cost to which Keefer and Richards responded with data from the Ontario Energy Board. Nuclear is the second lowest cost of electricity they said, after hydro. The cost of nuclear is 8.9 cents per kilowatt hour, compared to wind at 14.8 cents and solar at 49.7 cents.
The meeting was recorded. A link to Meeting 17, April 25, is found here: RNNR – Creating a Fair and Equitable Canadian Energy Transformation (ourcommons.ca)