(Montreal, September 14, 2010) Despite significant challenges, Canada is among 15 countries worldwide considering nuclear reactors in a resurgence of the energy resource – the largest since the 1980s, Ernst & Young revealed today at the World Energy Congress.
“Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick are all investing in nuclear energy, and the Prairie provinces have considered it, despite the associated challenges,” says Stephen Power, leader of Ernst & Young’s Power and Utilities sector team. “That said, there is still some reluctance as it’s not uncommon for these types of projects to be over budget and have missed timelines. And, of course, history reminds us accidents can occur.”
According to recent Ernst & Young research, the world is on the verge of a nuclear energy expansion – with a significant 65 reactors being built globally and another 120 being pursued – not including the refurbishment of existing reactors. The resurgence of the carbon-friendly resource over the past few years is mainly due to the demand for a more secure energy supply and zero-emissions power. Nuclear energy, on a global scale, has become an increasingly viable option within the energy industry over the past couple of years and looks to stay the course. Nevertheless, alternative energy sources should also be considered.
“Nuclear is an important clean energy resource, but it’s only part of the solution. We have to continue thinking about and sourcing renewable energies like wind, hydro and solar,” says Power. “Bringing a reactor online requires a long lead time. Renewable energies can be more readily available for use and, given current government support and programs, economically viable.”
Renewable energy is important to Canada and is finding increased support from provincial governments. This is exemplified by the “shift-to-green” Canada is experiencing through recently announced proposals and policies across the country, including legislation in British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec.
“Quebec is really strong from a renewable energy standpoint, specifically around hydro-electricity and is now making strides in clean nuclear energy as well,” says Patrick Bossé, an Assurance partner at Ernst & Young. “Quebec is investing billions of dollars into renewable energy, and the refurbishment of reactors – not forgetting their energy efficiency programs. These are significant indicators of the importance of alternative energy sources, as well as nuclear energy here in Canada.”
If Canada continues to educate the public on the benefits of renewable energy and support innovation and technology in the sector, we’re well positioned to be attractive to the global market for investment and as a supplier of products, technologies and know how.
To continue the momentum, the industry must maintain a balance between the proven technology of nuclear energy and emerging renewable technologies.
“From the beginning, nuclear companies must dedicate themselves to developing more robust and detailed nuclear energy plans that show considerations for budgets and timelines,” adds Sonia Lacombe, leader of Ernst & Young’s Eastern Canada Climate Change and Sustainability Advisory practice. “More diligent risk management and assessments, and governance are necessary to avoid the mistakes and pitfalls that can occur with reactor builds and maintenance.”
The investments governments are currently making to develop sustainable technologies need to generate returns. If they’re developed well, Canada will have a vibrant energy sector that powers the country with a reliable and clean approach and creates employment opportunities.
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