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Letter to the Editor: Nuclear will play a key role in Net Zero

It’s election time, and that gets us thinking about national issues – what our country should be doing, and how we want our government to lead.  One of the important issues is energy policy, and in Canada, that doesn’t just mean oil.  Here in the area of Grey, Bruce and Huron Counties, we are also a major energy producer, thanks to the Bruce nuclear site.  This one campus is the world’s largest single site producer of nuclear electricity production, supplying about 30% of all of Ontario’s electricity. One of the key advisors on global energy policy is the International Energy Agency (IEA), who recently released their report on how the world can achieve “net zero” carbon emissions by 2050, a goal Canada, as a member of the IEA, has agreed to.  As you may expect, the road to net zero is not simple.  It involves massive reduction of diesel and gasoline-powered engines, in favour of electric vehicles.  It also requires the elimination of coal and oil as a means of electricity production, which will require massive expansion of non-emitting electricity sources. Where will all the new electricity come from?  As you may expect, the IEA projects broad proliferation of solar energy, and it is very good news that this source is becoming more cost-effective over time.  However, the IEA also projects that the world requires a massive increase in the use of nuclear energy to generate electricity.  Why?  Other than power dams and waterfalls, which are in short supply, nuclear is the one carbon-free technology that can generate massive amounts of electricity 24X7, regardless of the weather.  That’s especially important in the very dark days of December and January in our northern climate. The good news for the world is that nuclear power has a very good track record of safety, in comparison to other sources of power.  There have only been three significant failures in the history of nuclear – Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima, and only in Chernobyl was anyone seriously injured or killed due to radiation exposure.  Further, the new generation of “small modular reactors” or “SMRs” being developed, promises to generate carbon-free power with a much improved safety margin, at a fraction of the cost. So it’s a great time to be living in Grey, Bruce and Huron Counties, Canada’s nuclear power heartland.  We are home to the world’s largest nuclear refurbishment program, which will keep the Bruce generators running into the 2060’s and beyond, and the NWMO is on the cusp of developing a safe and sustainable solution to high-level nuclear waste, right here in our area.  We are the leaders in this important energy technology, and it’s important that we have the support of our local politicians.  With the right community and political support, our area can continue to play a pivotal role in energy production, for Ontario, for Canada and for the world. Sincerely, Tony Zettel, RR5 Mildmay

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