Frequently Asked Questions
In 2017 (the latest data available), nuclear power generated 10.6% of global electricity, making the second-largest largest source of low-carbon energy worldwide after hydroelectricity.
Yes! There are 19 operable power reactors at four nuclear generating stations in Canada which, in 2017, provided approximately 15% of Canada’s electricity.
When operating, nuclear power plants produce no greenhouse gas emissions and no combustible by-products. Nuclear is a carbon-free energy solution.
Nuclear is already the most land-efficient means of electricity production, requiring only 2.4 km2/TWh per year. An SMR like the GE Hitachi BWRX-300 is also designed to reduce building volume reduction in plant layout by about 90 percent, resulting in a very minimal impact on natural habitats compared to fossil fuels.
Yes, but it is miniscule compared to fossil fuels. In fact, if we replaced all the world’s coal and natural gas plants with low-carbon nuclear, we would reduce global CO2 emissions by nearly 13 billion tonnes annually.
Very! While nuclear generating stations require upfront capital investment, their long life and low costs for fuel, operations and maintenance lead to low power costs over time.
There are a number of existing uses for nuclear technology beyond power that include:
- Use of radiation to kill bacteria, insects and parasites that can cause food-borne diseases
- Production of new crop varieties
- Industrial inspection examining the molecular and macroscopic structure of materials
- Nuclear gauges that use a radioactive source to detect characteristics of an item (i.e. thickness, density or chemical makeup)
- Desalination to produce clean drinking water
- Fuel for various modes of travel
- Numerous consumer products, from smoke detectors and cosmetics to frying pans and photocopiers.
There is also research into producing steam supplies for industrial applications and district heating systems.
The economic benefits of expanding the nuclear industry in Canada are considerable. Consider that nuclear technology supports medicine, materials science, advanced manufacturing, food safety all in addition to energy production. The industry supports approximately 60,000 Canadian jobs, and nearly 200 Canadian companies supply products and/or services to the industry.
Deploying the first GE Hitachi BWRX-300 SMR in Ontario is estimated to generate approximately $2.3 billion in Gross Domestic Product (GDP), $1.9 billion in labour income and more than $750 million in federal, provincial and municipal tax revenue over its lifespan.
And each subsequent BWRX-300 is expected to further generate more than $1.1 billion in GDP and more than $300 million in tax revenue.
All this is in addition to the economic benefits of mining and refining Canada’s rich stores of uranium, and the fact early leadership position in SMR technology could secure a significant share of the projected $400 to $600 billion global market for the country.
Nuclear power has been used safely by many countries for well over 60 years. It is one of the most closely monitored and regulated industries in the world and actually has the lowest rate of fatalities and injuries per unit of electricity compared to all other electric power generation. Cyber security and physical on-site security are top-tier and on guard 24-7.
The reactors themselves are built to strident safety specifications, constantly monitored and layered with multiple redundancy systems to maintain the unprecedented track record of safety the industry has achieved.
The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) is Canada’s nuclear regulator - an independent agency with quasi-judicial powers that reports to Parliament through the Minister of Natural Resources.
The CNSC is responsible for regulating the use of nuclear energy and materials to protect the health, safety and security of Canadians and the environment. They provide licensing to facilities and can impose legal penalties for violations.