The following was submitted to QP Briefing for publication by John Barrett, President and CEO of the Canadian Nuclear Association
This Wednesday, the Canadian Nuclear Association kicks off its 2019 Conference and Trade Show at the Westin Hotel in Ottawa.
The theme of CNA2019 is: “New Nuclear: Generating Solutions for Climate and Health.” Over 800 attendees will talk about the innovations in nuclear technology – and how that makes the future of nuclear energy so different from the past.
There is growing evidence that the millennial generation evaluates and supports innovative technologies more strongly when they are seen to bring real solutions to society’s challenges. First and foremost among the solutions is whether the technology can significantly reduce GHG emissions and help decarbonize our energy supply.
This is where new nuclear comes in. The nuclear industry is undergoing a renaissance in innovative solutions that hold the promise of lifting communities out of energy poverty or coal dependence, while enhancing public health through clean air and medical isotopes. Small, ultra-safe reactors could hold the key to significant reductions in GHG emissions, while providing copious amount of clean electricity to communities and industries alike.
In advance of CNA2019, the independent firm Abacus Data was commissioned to measure the views of young Canadians on climate change and the role that nuclear and small modular reactors (SMRs) may play in reducing emissions.
The findings of the online poll* will be presented by Abacus Data CEO David Coletto at a keynote address at the conference on February 28. But here in advance are some of the highlights.
Young people were the most concerned about climate change. Sixty-two per cent of those 18-to-29 in age said they were extremely or very concerned about the issue, compared with 54 per cent nationally.
Those 18-to-29 were also more likely to say a shift from fossil fuels to low-carbon energy sources was extremely or very important – 69 per cent, compared with 58 per cent for the general population.
While the 18-to-29 age group was most likely to believe that nuclear energy created more carbon pollution than oil, they were strongly in support of nuclear replacing higher emitting energy sources after being informed that nuclear was a low-carbon technology.
Eighty-nine per cent of those 18-to-29 supported or were open to using nuclear in this scenario, compared to 83 per cent of the overall population.
The poll also found that 86 per cent of those 18-to-29 supported or were open to SMRs as an alternative to fossil fuels.
Most importantly, the data shows that when young people, who are most concerned about climate change, are informed that nuclear and new nuclear are low-carbon sources, they quickly become strong supporters.
Canada is home to new nuclear. The innovation is happening throughout the nuclear industry.
It is happening in advanced reactor design, refurbishment of our CANDU fleet, development and use of robotics and 3D printing and artificial intelligence, development of alternative clean power sources such as hydrogen that can be generated through nuclear power.
Canada is emerging internationally as a leading country for the research, development and regulation of small modular reactors, which offer to small and remote communities the possibility, hitherto beyond reach, of unlimited, reliable clean electricity and heat on a 24/7 basis.
All this tells us that new nuclear is not a dream. It’s not around the corner. It’s here now. Come to CNA2019 and see for yourself!
*The survey was conducted online with 2,500 Canadians aged 18+ in February 2019. The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample is +/- 1.96 per cent, 19 times out of 20. The data were weighted according to census to ensure sample matched Canada's population according to age, gender, education, region.
Dr. John Barrett is President and CEO of the Canadian Nuclear Association (CNA). His career in the Canadian public service includes Foreign Affairs, National Defence, and the Privy Council Office. In addition, he was in the International Staff of NATO and Deputy Director of the Canadian Centre for Arms Control & Disarmament. Before joining the industry association, Dr. Barrett was Canada’s Ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, where he chaired the IAEA’s Board of Governors; as well as Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization and to the United Nations in Vienna. He served as Canada’s Ambassador to Austria and to the Slovak Republic. Dr. Barrett has a BA and MA from the University of Toronto, and a Ph.D. from the London School of Economics. He is a Board Director of the World Institute of Nuclear Security (WINS) and holds the Institute for Corporate Directors ICD.D designation.