Sunday, September 6, 2009

More nukes for Québec? Non

When I heard this on the radio, I thought this is crazy. But it's not. Nuclear power is actually being considered for a very remote region of Québec; by private concerns.

If only we had the kind of supply here in Ontario for power that they do in Québec, we would never have to import a single watt of electricity from another jurisdiction ever again. Over 36,000 megawatts are produced by the Québec system at any one time, compared to 22,000 MW by the Ontario system. The system in La Belle Province is so great that much of it is exported to the power-hungry Americans -- New York City is basically lit up by plants more than 1600 kilometres to the north.

Québec built these plants, of course, to power the plants which process primary materials -- aluminum, steel and pulp and paper; all of which require tremendous amounts of electricity. They have plenty of capacity to spare (even considering most people in Québec use electricity instead of gas or oil to heat their homes); so how to explain that a mining company wants to build a 10 MW "mini" nuclear plant to power a new operation about 200 km northeast of Chibougamau -- which in turn is nearly 500 km way from Montréal.

Wouldn't it be cheaper to pay for a tranmission line and pay for the power than to build something intended to be "off the grid"? Or to build a dam (after working out something with the natives) and sell surplus power back to the grid when not needed? Not to mention all the problems nuclear power can cause. And even assuming no accidents or so-called "incidents", about the only people who seem to get it right when it comes to the nuclear option are those in Western Europe -- and their "off the shelf" technology is priced through the roof, as we in Ontario recently found out when Pointy Head thought he could build a couple of new nukes to replace thermal energy on the cheap.

This one really does need scrutiny. I'm pro business, but I'm also pro sustainability. Having a nuclear power plant in or near an urban area is one thing. Having one in the middle of nowhere -- well, I may as well buy that "miracle spring water" that Peter Popoff allegedly procures from Chernobyl, Ukraine to protect myself.

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1 comment:

JimBobby said...

Whooee! Here in Ontario, we also have capacity to spare. So much of it that Bruce Power had to idle some of its reactors this summer.

Earlier this year, we actually paid for energy from Bruce and then, because too much energy in the grid can cause instability, we actually paid big industrial users to take that energy off of our hands.

Bruce abandoned it's plans to build a new 2 reactor plant in Nanticoke and a new 4 reactor plant in Tiverton. No demand and an over supply already. That, coupled with crippling costs for new reactor builds, put the kibosh on the ill-considered idea.

Europe's biggest nuke operator, Areva, is in deep financial doo-doo on accounta cost over runs and slow progress on its Gen 3 reactor build in Finland. Geb 3 reactors were supposed to fix the perennial nuke industry problem of cost overruns and behind-schedule progress.

Out in NB, Pt Lepreau is being refurbished. The'ye 8 months behind schedule and about $142 mil over budget. On top of that, NB is spending $20 mil a month to but replacement energy while Lepreau is offline.

Bruce/AECL are refurbishing 2 reactors at Tiverton. More than a year behind schedule and about %500 million over budget.

Several NA reactor projects (including Darlington) have either been abandoned or postponed indefinitely due to massive costs over original (lowball) estimates.

Meanwhile, investment into energy efficiency and renewables continues to grow.