CNA response to CBC story on SMR’s in Saskatchewan
In your May 24 story, Jim Harding says Saskatchewan’s electricity grid is small enough to be powered by wind and solar.
While Saskatchewan has some of the best wind and solar resources in the country, there are limitations as to when these technologies produce electricity as well as how much can be accommodated on any one electricity system (regardless of the size of the grid). As a result, the way to create more “space” for renewables is to pair them appropriately with power that’s available 24 / 7.
As a result, the real question should be—what is the best mix of electricity for Saskatchewan?
The Government of Saskatchewan is considering new nuclear—specifically Small Modular Reactors (SMRs)—because the province has some of the world’s best uranium resources.
They are considering it because they know it works reliably and cleanly, and it generates great jobs.
Lastly, while giving credit for nuclear not emitting carbon when producing electricity, Mr. Harding claims that nuclear energy’s life-cycle emissions detract from this.
The fact is, all forms of electricity production emit some amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, even if they don’t burn fossil fuels.
Though nuclear energy does have an intensive life-cycle, from mining of uranium ore to storage of spent fuel, it releases no carbon in its operations. When all of these steps are taken into account, nuclear power still compares favourably with renewable energy sources – and is well ahead of fossil fuels.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, nuclear power sits alongside renewables such as wind and hydro as electricity sources with lifetime carbon emissions of under or about 20 grams per kilowatt-hour (g/kWh).
Saskatchewan is blessed with abundant solar, wind and uranium resources. The best mix of technologies to decarbonize its electricity system is abundantly clear.