CANDU industry leader and long-time UNENE board member to chair Research Advisory Committee

Paul Spekkens headshot "New RAC Chair"

Paul Spekkens, who has spent nearly 45 years in leadership, research and consulting roles in the Canadian nuclear industry and helped establish UNENE, will help steer the UNENE research agenda.

MAY 26, 2021 – It’s good to come home again.

Paul Spekkens, an experienced CANDU industry leader and one of the founders of the University Network of Excellence in Nuclear Engineering (UNENE) returns to work with UNENE universities to advance nuclear research in Canada.

Spekkens, who served on both the UNENE and CANDU Owners Group (COG) boards, including as chair, brings a unique perspective from both the university and industry worlds.

Spekkens spent most of his career with Ontario Power Generation (OPG), and its predecessor, Ontario Hydro (OH), including two decades in senior management. His career with OH began in the research division, and he worked for 16 years in R&D areas such as chemistry, corrosion and chemical cleaning. Currently Spekkens is an independent consultant working mainly with Kinectrics and COG.

Spekkens chaired his first UNENE’s Research Advisory Committee (RAC),
May 5.

“Paul’s long-time experience working with both UNENE and COG is a tremendous asset for the Canadian nuclear sector,” says Jerry Hopwood, UNENE president and CEO. “He has a strong grasp on both university capabilities and industry needs. To have someone with his knowledge leading the RAC is a tremendous asset for Canada’s nuclear sector.”

The RAC, reports to the UNENE board, and oversees UNENE’s university research priorities and activities. The committee is comprised of representatives from each of the member organizations and provides a forum to prioritize and strategically assess programs and activities. As well, the RAC provides independent review of proposals for UNENE Research Cooperation Projects (RCPs).

“I find it satisfying to contribute to organizations like UNENE, which play a critical role in the Canadian nuclear industry,” says Spekkens, of taking on the volunteer position. 

“Nuclear is a vital component of the solution to controlling climate change. Giving something back to the industry where I worked my entire career is a fitting way to spend my retirement years.”

Paul Spekkens – A few career highlights

Dr. Paul Spekkens led OPG’s nuclear R&D program in collaboration with COG and UNENE.

He was responsible for engineering support of all components in the OPG nuclear fleet, including $50-100 million projects on feeder integrity and fuel channel life extension. These projects allowed OPG to secure regulatory approval for its Pickering Nuclear units to operate beyond their original “design life”. The overall outcome for Ontarians has been billions of dollars of additional revenue from its publicly-owned nuclear assets and a continued supply of low-carbon electricity.

Spekkens is strategic advisor for the COG SMR Technology Forum.

Spekkens has served as a mentor for many experiential leadership development programs offered by OPG and COG, including nuclear safety culture training programs in Canada and Korea.

He’s spent more than half his career representing the Canadian CANDU fleet on a number of technical committees at the U.S.-based Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI).

Spekkens holds a bachelor of science degree in chemistry from the University of Ottawa and a PhD in chemistry from McMaster University.