Nuclear energy could drive decarbonisation in Canada’s heavy industries – report

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Climate change is considered a serious issue by 91% of Canadians, with 86% who believe the government should invest in clean energy technologies including renewables and nuclear energy.

Nuclear energy can play an integral role in fighting climate change – including through SMRs (small modular reactors). While much focus on SMRs has been on their ability to supply clean electricity, new research points to their potential to cost-effectively help decarbonize Canada’s heavy industry sector.

Nuclear is one of the largest producers of clean electricity around the world and in Canada, already accounting for 15% of Canada’s electricity production. What is pivotal is its potential to decarbonize heat and power in Canada’s industrial sectors. 

Collectively, oil sands, chemical manufacturing and mining currently contribute more than 30% of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions

The research, conducted by EnviroEconomics and Navius Research, and commissioned by the Canadian Nuclear Association (CNA), explores the economic and climate benefits and implications of employing small modular reactors (SMRs) in Canada’s high-emitting industrial sectors.

“Canada’s economy is built on the advantage of extensive, rich natural resources. But it’s a double-edged sword when it comes addressing climate change,” John Gorman, CEO of the Canadian Nuclear Association (CNA) said in a media release.

“While fossil fuels currently serve 80% of all energy needs in Canada and contributed C$108 billion ($86bn) of Canada’s GDP in 2018, they also account for a large share of this country’s greenhouse gas emissions,” Gorman said.

“Collectively, oil sands, chemical manufacturing and mining currently contribute more than 30% of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions and face enormous challenges in reducing them. But the reality is we cannot afford to abandon these industries that form the backbone of our economy. We must focus on decarbonising them in an environmentally and economically advantageous way.”

(Read the full report here)