Canada positions itself for clean energy future

Woman hiking with Government of Canada logo inset

MARCH 12, 2021 – Throughout the past several years, the nuclear academic community has participated in the development of Canada’s plans for a low-carbon, clean energy future. Plans released in the past six months by the Canadian Government as a result of this work, cover areas ranging from an overarching approach to climate change to development of a mobile hydrogen energy source to design and deployment of small modular reactors (SMRs).

Some of the key energy policy pieces released over the past several months are highlighted below:

A strengthened climate change plan

On Dec. 11, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the launch of A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy, a proposed plan, supported by an initial $15 billion in investments, with a focus on creating jobs and supporting workers in a stronger and cleaner economy. A major target for the climate plan is for Canada to hit net-zero emissions by 2050.

In February, the government also launched the Net-Zero Advisory Body, an independent group of 14 experts from across the country, who will provide advice on the best pathways to achieving net-zero emissions targets. The Advisory Body is a key part of the proposed Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act tabled in the House of Commons last fall, which would turn Canada’s emissions goals into law.

One of the pillars of the climate change plan is to make clean, affordable power available in every community by expanding the supply of clean electricity through investments and other measures to increase renewables and next-generation clean energy and technology. The report references small modular reactors as one possible next-gen technology.

Click here to read the climate change plan.

Click here to learn more about the Net-Zero Advisory Body.

Hydrogen strategy key to Canada’s clean energy future

Later in December 2020, Minister of Natural Resources Seamus O’Regan announced the Hydrogen Strategy for Canada. The strategy focuses on achieving emission reduction targets and creating economic opportunities while working with industry, academia, other levels of government and Indigenous partners to make the country a global leader in hydrogen technologies.

As one of the top 10 producers of hydrogen in the world, Canada benefits from the growing global hydrogen market which is expected to reach almost $12 trillion by 2050. The government estimates hydrogen technologies have the potential to reduce Canada’s annual greenhouse gas emissions by up to 45 million metric tonnes a year in 2030 and could create up to 350,000 new jobs in Canada by 2050.

The hydrogen strategy discusses the important role nuclear power can play as a clean energy “feedstock” for hydrogen production — a way to produce hydrogen without emitting carbon. The strategy document references work done by Bruce Power and small modular reactor (SMR) vendors to explore the feasibility of safe, efficient and cost-effective hydrogen production using nuclear technology.

Bruce Power and the Nuclear Innovation Institute (NII) recently . Ontario Power Generation and several SMR vendors are also currently exploring hydrogen production opportunities.

Click here to read the hydrogen strategy

SMR Action Plan features UNENE members and industry partners

Dec. 18, the NRCan Minister announced Canada’s Small Modular Reactor (SMR) Action Plan, demonstrating the country’s readiness to use the technology to help meet its clean energy and economic goals.

UNENE, and many of its member institutions and industry partners, have chapters in the Action Plan outlining their roles and commitments to achieve Canada’s vision for the use of SMRs to meet the country’s greenhouse gas emission reductions, including hitting net-zero emissions by 2050, as well as to deliver jobs and move toward a low-carbon future.

Featuring 450 actions developed through consultations with more than 100 organizations, including governments, Indigenous peoples, organized labour, utilities, industry, innovators, academia and others, the Action Plan envisions Canada as an SMR and clean energy world leader.

Since 2019, four Canadian provinces, Ontario, New Brunswick, Saskatchewan and Alberta, have agreed to work together on SMR development, as they look to SMRs as part of their greenhouse-gas transition strategies.

For two years, Canada has been progressing on 53 recommendations identified in the plan laid out in Canada’s SMR Roadmap, launched November 2018.

Click here to read UNENE’s chapter within the SMR Action Plan.

Click here to view the SMR Action Plan website.

UNENE member chapters

McMaster University
Ontario Tech University
Queen’s University
University of New Brunswick
University of Regina
University of Toronto

Canada launches Radioactive Waste Policy Engagement

In November 2020, NRCan announced a plan to modernize Canada’s radioactive waste policy to promote long-term management solutions, aligning with international standards and best practices.

UNENE is currently part of NRCan’s radioactive waste consultation process and in February, held a roundtable discussion to gather input from UNENE members on the policy. We are also submitting a letter to NRCan sharing input from the academic community and perspectives on how the university community can further support policy development.

As part of the consultation process, the Government of Canada is engaging academia, Indigenous peoples, waste producers and owners, and other levels of government. Minister O’Regan asked the Nuclear Waste Management Organization to lead a dialogue to develop an integrated strategy for Canada’s radioactive waste.

Canadian nuclear policy leader joins OECD Nuclear Energy Agency

Diane Cameron who served as Director, Nuclear Energy Division for the Ministry of Natural Resources’ (NRCan) since 2014 has joined the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Nuclear Energy Agency (OECD-NEA) to head up the Nuclear Technology Development and Economics Division.

In her role at NRCan, Cameron was well-recognized for her leadership in Canada’s nuclear policy development, connecting communities and stakeholders for meaningful dialogue at both a national and global level, and for communicating evidence-based information about the vital role nuclear energy can play in clean energy systems. Cameron worked to raise the profile of nuclear as an important component of clean energy plans that will address national and global goals related to climate change, energy security and prosperity.

The OECD-NEA is an intergovernmental agency that facilitates co-operation among countries with advanced nuclear technology.