To the Editor:
From the time I saw Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth in 2006, I was convinced that climate change would be the defining issue of our generation, and I felt strongly that I, along with every other citizen, should consider what I should do to help.
At that time I was an IT manager at Bruce Power, having left a good job in banking five years earlier to move “home” to South Bruce, to live closer to family and work in the nuclear power industry. I already knew that nuclear power was a massive, reliable and scalable source of non-emitting electricity, just what the world was going to need a lot more of in the future. Therefore, my climate change mission was to settle in and be the best IT manager I could be, and do my part to help make the Bruce nuclear stations successful.
In the ensuing years, my colleagues managed to complete the restart of Bruce A, allowing the province to shut down all of Ontario’s coal-fired generating stations, in what is now recognized as perhaps the largest carbon reduction initiative in world history. The Bruce stations, along with Darlington, have been so successful that full refurbishment is under way, setting these units up for forty more years of clean energy production. But that will not be sufficient.
Mass electrification, including the proliferation of electric vehicles will require a lot more power generation. Yes, we need wind and solar generation, but these sources pale in comparison to the scale and 24X7 stability of massive CANDU stations. Canada’s transition to a low-carbon economy demands that existing coal-fired and gas-fired power plants (the mainstay of electricity production on the prairies and in the Maritimes) be replaced, and that over-all output be significantly expanded.
That’s why Canada, along with 19 other nations agreed at the recent COP28 summit to triple nuclear power production by 2050. That means each nuclear station we have today needs to be refurbished or replaced, and two more like it brought online in the next 25 years. Can we reach such an ambitious goal? Well, let’s have a look at our history in Ontario.
In the early 1970s, with a vision to power the province using nuclear energy, Ontario Hydro built and commissioned 20 units in 20 years. The ongoing refurbishment projects at Bruce and Darlington with most of the materials and know-how originating right here in Ontario, have established a great track record, with the first three units coming back online on time and on budget. Ontario’s nuclear industry is well-positioned to lead the country in the net-zero transition.
Here in Bruce County, which I affectionately call Canada’s nuclear heartland, our skills in construction, project management, engineering and nuclear operations, will be a critical resource in this massive climate change initiative. Meanwhile, responsible investment in nuclear power demands that we have a permanent solution for our used nuclear fuel. Here again, we are in a leadership role, with the potential to build and operate Canada’s Deep Geological Repository for safe, permanent storage.
I’ve long since left Bruce Power, but my work is still mostly oriented to the nuclear industry. In my heart, I hold the success and safety of our CANDU fleet, its successful refurbishment, the development of new nuclear stations, and the permanent storage of nuclear waste, as a moral imperative. And so, as some of my neighbours have suggested, I remain a passionate and unapologetic cheerleader for nuclear energy.
Tony Zettel, RR5 Mildmay