Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced his country’s plans to revive nuclear energy production in a bid to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels.
Speaking in Ottawa on Monday, Trudeau highlighted the need to decarbonize the country’s energy mix and decrease its dependency on oil and gas. He suggested that nuclear energy will play a key role in achieving these goals, with Canada investing in small modular reactors.
“Even though in the short term there is a need for support of more fossil fuels into the global economy, what the world is looking at is not just getting off Russian oil and gas, it’s reducing our dependency on oil and gas overall and decarbonizing our energy mix as much as possible,” the Prime Minister said.
Although 15% of Canada’s electricity already comes from nuclear power, Trudeau believes the country will need a lot more energy in the future, especially with investments like the Volkswagen battery plant deal on the way.
“As we look at what the baseload energy requirements are gonna be needed by Canada over the coming decades, especially as we continue to draw in global giants like Volkswagen who choose Canada partially because we have a clean energy mix to offer to power, we’re gonna need a lot more energy,” he said. “We’re gonna have to be doing much more nuclear.”
Trudeau’s announcement has been commended by Chris Keefer, president of Canadians for Nuclear Energy, who sees it as a signal of growing enthusiasm in Ottawa towards nuclear energy. Keefer argues that nuclear power is an optimal way to double or triple Canada’s grid, as the country shifts away from fossil fuels and spends billions to attract green-tech investments.
Trudeau’s comments come at a time when Germany, one of Canada’s potential customers, has shut down its remaining nuclear power plants. Germany has been searching for alternative energy sources as it moves away from Russian imports after the Kremlin ordered the invasion of Ukraine.
A January 2023 poll from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute found that most Canadians, or 57%, favor nuclear expansion. Among the provinces, support was highest in Saskatchewan at 73%, Alberta at 71%, Ontario at 70%, and New Brunswick and 63%. Alberta recently signed a third small modular reactor agreement, while Ontario and New Brunswick are looking into introducing small modular reactors into their grid.
In Quebec, meanwhile, 56% were opposed or strongly opposed to the further development of nuclear power. The province has not generated nuclear power since 2012 when the provincial government moved to shut down the Gentilly 2 reactor.
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