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Nuclear Power in Alberta: A Resident's Perspective

Picture of Reactors

This picture is of Qinshan Phase III units 1 and 2, located in Zhejiang, China (30.436° N 120.958° E): Two CANDU 6 reactors, designed by Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL), owned and operated by the Third Qinshan Nuclear Power Company Limited. The installation is essentially two separate plants, inherent to the CANDU6 design. Picture & accompanying description are complements of Wikipedia.

Nuclear power in Alberta: A resident's perspective on things. Amid thе vibrant еnеrgy landscapе of Albеrta and all еyеs arе on thе еxciting еxploration of nuclеar powеr as a crucial еlеmеnt in thе provincе's futurе еnеrgy plans. Rеcеnt talks involving thе Albеrta govеrnmеnt highlight a strong commitmеnt to divеrsifying thе еnеrgy mix and addressing concеrns likе gas ratеs and еlеctricity plans and thе ovеrall rеgional еnеrgy stratеgy.

In thе backdrop of rеcеnt nеws articlеs and it is clеar that thе govеrnmеnt's stancе on nuclеar powеr seems to be a pivotal factor and indicating a potеntial shift in Albеrta's еnеrgy paradigm. Thеsе discussions go bеyond immеdiatе considеrations and dеlving into thе long tеrm sustainability and еnvironmеntal impact of intеgrating nuclеar еnеrgy into Albеrta's divеrsе еnеrgy portfolio. This introduction sеts thе stagе for a dеtailеd еxploration of Albеrta's involvеmеnt with nuclеar powеr and sеamlеssly wеaving kеy kеywords to capturе thе еssеncе of thе ongoing еnеrgy dialoguе in thе provincе.

Alberta's Nuclear Landscape: Powering the Future

Alberta is buzzing with energy, and right now, all the chatter is about diving into the world of nuclear power. The government is all in, on a mission to spice up its energy mix with a dash of nuclear magic. What does this mean? What's got everyone talking? Well, Alberta is serious about shaking things up and exploring the potential of nuclear energy as a VIP player in its energy game. The government is like, "Let's spice it up and diversify our energy sources!"

Now, here's a cool nugget: Alberta isn't new to the nuclear scene. There's this vintage experimental reactor hanging out at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. It's not just any reactor; it's got history, like a wise old wizard in the world of nuclear research in the region. So, nuclear power in Alberta will not be a 'new' thing, it is already here, and has been for a long time! Safely too we might add!

Exploring Alberta's Energy Landscape: Nuclear Power and Public Perspectives

Alright, let's dive into the energy scene of Alberta and Saskatchewan. Each seems to be currently rocking the electricity game with natural gas and coal, like the superhero duo of power sources. In Alberta, a whopping 90% of the electricity party is powered by natural gas and coal, while Saskatchewan is vibing with fossil fuels making up about 80% of their energy mix.

Now, let's talk about the buzz in town! People are chatting about nuclear power in Alberta, and it's causing a stir. Some folks are all about the potential economic perks it could bring. Picture this: using nuclear energy to jazz up oil into fancier, more valuable products. It's like turning a regular smoothie into a superfood smoothie – upgrades all around! Not sure if this is in the mix or not, but it could be, it is certainly a possibility.

Nuclear Power Across Canada

Alright, let's unravel the Canadian energy tale, where each province has its own role in the drama! Ontario and New Brunswick are like the rockstars of the nuclear scene, stealing the spotlight. Ontario is a big nuclear reactor user, and more new ones are on the way.

In Ontario, get ready for some nuclear excitement! They're going big on nuclear energy, fuelled by the electric vibe of more people hopping on the electric vehicle (EV) train. Criticisms are flying around about past investments in wind turbines and some provinces having a soft spot for coal. But fear not, Ontario has a plan! (As long as the grid can handle the EV recharging load.)

Ontario is giving a makeover to its nuclear fleets, especially the cool but slightly aged Pickering plant. They're all about diversifying the energy mix and putting nuclear power in the spotlight to cut down on emissions. It's like giving the planet a big eco-hug!

Now, let's hop over to New Brunswick – they're playing it mysterious with nuclear power. The feedback on their plans is like a well-kept secret for now. (They have however been in the nuclear reactor scene for a long while.)

Summing it up, these energy talks remind us of a tricky dance between sustainability and reliability. It's like finding the perfect balance in a high-energy performance! Get ready for more twists and turns in the Canadian energy saga! The party is just getting started!

Global Context

Let's take a trip around the globe and explore the dynamic world of nuclear reactors – it's like a blockbuster movie, but real! There is lots to see on the nuclear reactor scene. Germany is (or was) a big player, but was shifting to natural gas from nuclear at the insistence of 'the green movement' in Germany, (perhaps due to a well skilled yet hidden hand at work over the years behind the green movement in Germany, so that makes Russia makes more money from natural gas sales, and it gives Russia more control over Germany as it can turn off the natural gas at any time on a cold winter's day).

In the U.S., there's a bit of a plot twist. They're facing questions about why they're not building as many new reactors. The culprit? Natural gas swooped in as the easy, accessible alternative. It's like a superhero origin story, but for energy sources! The world is changing its tune on nuclear power, thanks to climate concerns and global politics pulling the strings.

Germany, known for its anti-nuclear vibe, is having second thoughts because of the climate crisis. Belarus (an extremely close military, political and economic ally of Russia) is also throwing curve-balls with its nuclear choices, (including now hosting Russian nuclear missiles that are likely aimed at NATO). Meanwhile, Iran and Pakistan are doing their thing, pursuing nuclear power under the (in theory) watchful eye of the global spotlight. Plan on Iran obtaining nuclear war heads for its intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), just a matter of time, same for North Korea, especially given both countries new close relationships with Russia. In case nobody noticed, the Cold War is back, except in Ukraine (not part of NATO yet) where it is an active conventional war (but that is another topic). Canada should be extremely thankful that it is part of NATO.) As a note ICBMs from some countries might fly over Canada on their way to the USA, (if they get that far).

Now, let's zoom into Alberta's story. These global dynamics are like a neon sign, flashing "Balance is key!" when it comes to nuclear power. It's a roller-coaster of challenges and potential benefits, and Alberta is in for one heck of a ride! It is assumed that one usually needs to balance electrical supply to meet consumer demand, which not always constant.

Recent Developments

Alright, let's unravel the mystery of nuclear energy in Alberta. So, here's the deal: Alberta's stance on nuclear energy is playing hide-and-seek. The politicians are a bit cautious, probably because of those old-school fears from the Cold War era and the haunting memories of Fukushima and Chernobyl. It's like they're hesitating at the entrance of a haunted house, perhaps seeking reassurance.

The thing is, nuclear energy has this reputation of being politically risky, especially with the boomer crowd. Despite Canada's attempt to jazz things up with Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) – versatile and cost-effective nuclear magic – Alberta seems to be still on the fence. They are major capital projects, and as such there are always worries of cost overruns or delivery delays, and such, especially if construction time lines are not realistic, or if they are adjusted for political reasons.

Factors to Consider In Siting A Nuclear Reactor

Nuclear reactors are extremely safe, and have a long track record of safety, but in the event of an enemy military strike or terrorist attack, it is best if they are located a good safe distance from population centers (think blast radius / over-pressure shock wave, etc, and the various types of radiation produced by a ground burst nuclear explosion, we will not bore you with all the technical details) but 'how far away' depends on how big the blast would be (generally speaking the further away the better, and other factors), and they should be located downwind of population centres (think radioactive fallout from a nuclear ground burst). Plot all of that out properly on the map, and you get the general idea. If one is not sure how to do that, there are people with those skills, that a government could officially ask, in short ask the feds, they know who knows that stuff. That can all be properly plotted.

Being close to a natural water source may also be desirable, depending on the design of the rectors cooling systems, in the event that a year round emergency backup water cooling source is needed. Besides cooling water, one may need external emergency backup power. As experience in Ukraine has taught us, any reactor should have at least two emergency backup generators, each able to fully meet the entire needs of the plant, and each with a physically separate (and physically secure and armoured) onsite fuel supply ideally able to last ten or more days (each). (Fuel tanks with bullet holes in them are not all that useful. Diesel is far less flammable, and thus less explosive that gasoline, but it needs the winter additive, year round, or it may turn to jelly in the cold months, and be useless until summer comes. Such fuel tanks would be high on a target list.)

Other Factors To Consider

Another factor to take into account is the actual design of the reactor. Canada has so far been a world leader in safe rector designs. Picking a proven design that has already been approved for use elsewhere in Canada would appear to be an excellent good choice, both from a safety and reliability point of view, and also from a construction risk perspective as it is less likely to have costly construction overruns and delays.

Physical security of the reactor grounds, and buildings etc, are also a factor to take into account. One or more security assessments/plans may well be needed. In world affairs, the future is not necessarily friendly. Canada has, or may gain, enemies, whether they are lone wolfs, or state sponsored actors, it pays to be as prepared (as reasonably as possible). At the very least they should perhaps take into account the effective range of small arms and RPGs, if fired from the public side of a perimeter fence. Armed drones are another concern, as are other weapons systems. One has to make judgment calls in considering such factors, threat assessments and costs are some of them. At least one Middle Eastern 'proxy' terrorist organization has by it's own words, publicly declared war on most of the Western World, including Canada, and they were not just posturing politically, they were serious. They are also extremely well funded, well armed, and have many followers in Canada.

The life span of the reactor should be taken into account for very long term retrofitting or replacement. The increase in population and electricity demand (over time) need to be factored into that, (plus commercial electricity demand). By the way, some provinces make money selling surplus power to other provinces and the USA, so if that if to occur, it should be factored in as well. This way the electrical grid is not left with a huge power deficit at the time that the reactor(s) go offline. Otherwise lack of advance planning, can leave the grid scrambling at the last minute to make up for the shortfall in electrical supply, which is unlikely to be pretty. (There should also be a detailed plan regarding what to do with spend fuel rods or similar items, and a security plan for the same.)


In conclusion, one person's personal perspective has been given above (as well as in this conclusion). He may be right, or he may be wrong, or he may be somewhere in between, you decide. Nuclear power can be a very good thing for Alberta and Alberta residents. Great care should be taken in picking a good location for such reactors, taking into account most if not all of the above points. Nuclear power from nuclear reactors is an excellent source of clean power. As with any major project or contract, the requirements should be well defined, and the paperwork should be well (and properly) written, timelines and budgets/costs should be accurate and realistic, and be sure to consult the appropriate experts before hand (rather than afterwards). Things are always clear in hindsight, the trick is to get the same clarity before hand!