Dear colleagues, I call us to order.
Welcome to our witnesses. We are meeting in a webcast session.
Welcome to meeting number 14 of the Standing Committee on Science and Research.
The Board of Internal Economy requires that committees adhere to the following health protocols, which are in effect until June 23, 2022. All individuals wishing to enter the parliamentary precinct must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. All those attending the meeting in person must wear a mask, except for members who are in their place during proceedings. Please contact the clerk of the committee—and we're delighted to have Cédric tonight—for further information on preventive measures for health and safety.
As the chair, I will enforce these measures, and as always, thank you for your co-operation.
Today's meeting is taking place in a hybrid format pursuant to the House order of November 25, 2021.
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I remind you that all comments should be addressed through the chair.
When you are not speaking, your microphone should be muted. The committee clerk and I will maintain a speaking list for all members.
To our witnesses tonight, welcome. We're delighted to have you. This is a new committee, science and research, and this is our third study on small modular nuclear reactors.
In our first of three panels tonight, we have, in person, John Gorman, president and chief executive officer, from the Canadian Nuclear Association. From Moltex Energy, we have Rory O'Sullivan, chief executive officer for North America; and from Ontario Tech University, we have Kirk Atkinson, associate professor and director, Centre for Small Modular Reactors.
Welcome to all.
Each of you will have five minutes to speak. At the four and a half minute mark, I will hold up a yellow card, and you will have 30 seconds to finish.
We will begin with John Gorman from the Canadian Nuclear Association.
The floor is yours. Welcome.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
First and foremost, I acknowledge that I'm joining you today from and on the traditional and unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinabe.
I thank the committee for inviting me to appear today on behalf of the Canadian Nuclear Association.
I am the president and CEO of the Canadian Nuclear Association, which is made up of almost 100 companies across the full nuclear energy supply chain in Canada. Our membership is keen to build upon over 60 years of expertise and experience in order to help Canada in meeting its goals for energy security, sustainability and affordability.
These goals have become even more important for Canada and other countries over these past months, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the resultant global energy crisis. Canada represents a viable option for strategic low-carbon commodities to fill the gaps and ensure energy security, and nuclear technologies will help deliver on that.
We're encouraged to see this committee's enthusiasm to learn more about small modular reactors—or SMRs for short—given the critical role that we expect this technology will be playing in ensuring national energy security and a net-zero future in Canada and elsewhere.
Canada is emerging as a global leader in the development and deployment of SMR technologies, and we're attracting the interest of key countries around the world. Efforts to promote Canada as the future of SMRs have been coordinated between a set of key utilities. You're going to be hearing from the CEOs later this evening and, of course, they are from Ontario Power Generation, New Brunswick Power, Bruce Power and SaskPower. Together with the CNA, we've created this pan-Canadian SMR initiative.
SMRs are said to be a part of the clean energy efforts by Canadian provinces, including Saskatchewan, Alberta, New Brunswick and Ontario, to meet their climate goals while enabling the reduction of carbon emissions in key sectors such as resource extraction, heavy industry, transportation and buildings. These provinces recently signed an MOU to develop SMR opportunities to meet their respective economic and environmental goals.
SMRs are also a viable option for northern, remote and indigenous communities seeking to replace diesel with a supply of clean and reliable energy.
The past few months have seen significant momentum in the industry to expand this technology. As the committee will learn later this evening with the CEOs of the four utilities, SMRs will be connected to the grid much sooner than many people understand. OPG's Darlington unit will be connected to the grid by 2028. Very small reactors, which are potentially of particular importance to indigenous communities that are considering clean energy options for their economic and social development goals, are anticipated to be online potentially before 2028.
To give a better sense of the technology, SMRs provide stable baseload clean energy that can complement variable renewables like wind and solar. There are three streams of SMRs designed to serve various challenges.
First, SMRs are a source of clean electricity, and that can help to meet the dramatic two to three times electricity generation we're going to require, as has been forecasted to 2050, in our net-zero future.
Second, advanced SMRs offer a combined source of clean electricity and clean, high-temperature heat, which is known as cogeneration. This is important for applications such as resource extraction, for production of clean fuels such as hydrogen and ammonia, for heavy industry in the production of products like steel, cement and aluminum, and for use in mining.
Finally, micro or very small modular reactors can displace diesel generation in remote communities.
To conclude, SMRs will play a critical role in helping Canada and the world meet their unique energy needs.
Now, we have an ask of the federal government, given what we see as a critically important role for SMRs in the future of Canada's energy system. In a nutshell, we are asking for explicit, continued and consistent support of SMRs and nuclear energy in clean energy initiatives and policies—consistent support.
This should include efforts to explicitly champion the technology as a viable solution and to bolster and streamline funding programs to help with SMR demonstration projects; continued collaboration between industry and government; and support for the pan-Canadian SMR development integrated funding ask that we have before the strategic innovation fund.
In closing, I want to thank you again for asking me to speak today and showing your interest in this important topic. We are confident that this next generation of nuclear reactor will not only deliver upon Canada's climate commitments but also position the country as a world leader in this innovative technology.
I look forward to addressing questions, should they come my way.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Unhindered by wind speed or cloud cover, nuclear power at all scales is able to meet baseload energy needs 24-7, on 365 days of the year. In Ontario we do this already, with 18 large CANDU reactors generating about 60% of Ontario's electricity with among the lowest CO2 emissions in the world. In a few short years, after more than 50 years of providing low-carbon electricity to Ontario, Pickering Nuclear will be retired, having achieved some of its best-ever performance in the last decade of its life, thanks to continuous innovation in nuclear technologies.
Ontario will need to replace about 15% of its electricity baseload, which is expected to come primarily from natural gas, and it will lose its enviable place in the world as one of the lowest-emitting jurisdictions. This regrettable situation can be alleviated in full or in part by the early 2030s through deployment of small modular reactors, nuclear reactors that generate usable powers of 300 megawatts electrical or less. In fact, Ontario Power Generation is already working towards that, with its first SMR from GE Hitachi expected to come online in 2028. It's a good first step.
SMRs can play a significant role in helping Canada reach net zero if government creates conditions that promote their deployment. SMRs are most often just an evolution of an existing reactor design, even those that involve newer concepts or fuels built on a solid foundation of research and development. For more than 50 years, a small number of nations around the world have been designing, building, operating and decommissioning small reactors within their naval fleets.
Away from prying eyes, several of these reactor types are similar and/or of comparable thermal power to SMR designs in vendor design review with the CNSC. Moreover, in the U.K., Rolls-Royce has been building light water reactors in its factories for decades. It's not magic; Canada can do this too.
As one of very few tier 1 nuclear nations, Canada's extensive nuclear supply chain is eminently capable of building and maintaining SMRs. Should we so desire, wherever you currently see a power station fuelled by coal, oil or natural gas, it is likely that an SMR or series of SMRs could be a clean, slot-in replacement for it. Given that they have been designed with intrinsic safety features that do not require human intervention, SMRs will be even safer to operate than earlier generation power reactors. This fact, together with their individually smaller radiological inventories—the amount of nuclear and radiological material they contain—means that any consequences to the public and the environment are effectively zero, should a highly improbable event happen. This makes the traditional concept of large site boundaries and emergency planning zones a thing of the past.
Despite all the advantages of SMRs, it is important that advocates for them be truthful. SMRs, like all nuclear reactors, will produce a small amount of radioactive waste per energy emitted. For some people, this is a red line, but we must ask ourselves this honestly: What is the bigger risk? Is it better to generate resilient, clean energy where the resultant waste volumes are small and well managed or to make greenhouse gases and accept the devastating consequences of climate change? There is no free lunch.
The consequences of burning coal are well known, and oil and gas, while working to decarbonize through new technologies and methods, have a long road to go and may never be carbon-neutral. Taken over their complete lifetimes, wind turbines, solar panels and batteries all produce waste, and some of them can cause harm. We forget this, as we don't yet require their vendors and operators to manage waste in as costly and robust a manner as the nuclear industry. It is not a level playing field. Fortunately, we have over a century's worth of knowledge in health physics and radiation science and have been applying it to the safe storage of nuclear waste since World War II. Being an early adopter of SMRs, Canada is in an ideal position to become a world leader in developing lucrative new and novel technologies for the management of SMR wastes.
The postpandemic recovery and recent events in Ukraine have demonstrated the fragility in the global energy market. Nations with mal-intent are now able to hold their neighbours hostage through threats of turning off their supply while driving up the price of gas at the pump here in Canada.
SMRs provide energy security while creating highly skilled, high-paying jobs. In Saskatchewan, we are blessed with the abundant uranium reserves needed by SMR vendors across the Western world. In Alberta, oil and gas workers can be assured of long-term job security by re-skilling for the SMR-generated process heat economy in hydrogen and alternative fuels. Our coastal provinces could become pioneers in desalination technologies that may be exported to water-scarce countries, and—particularly close to my heart, given shipping is essential to global trade and also a major emitter of greenhouse gases—shipbuilding provinces like Quebec could become powerhouses in nuclear propulsion by tooling up shipyards to install SMRs in ships that other nations recognize could propel a green revolution in shipping.
Clearly, to embrace this once in a half-century opportunity requires a much larger workforce than exists now, along with new skills and knowledge.
Ontario Tech University, home to Canada's only undergraduate program in nuclear engineering, stands ready with colleagues at universities and colleges across the land to deliver this education and training.
In tandem with this, demonstrated commitment to new nuclear from government in the long term will give confidence to our young people when making career choices. To date, the government has been very proactive in empowering NRCan to develop road maps and plans, and in providing innovation funding to vendors for their design work.
However, leadership needs more. It's not a question of if Canada should—
Thank you for the opportunity to appear today. I’m coming to you from Saint John, New Brunswick, which is the traditional, unceded territory of the Wolastoqiyik, Mi’kmaq and Peskotomuhkati peoples.
I’m Rory O’Sullivan, CEO for North America at Moltex Energy. Moltex is developing a suite of reactor technologies, including a stable salt reactor-wasteburner, or SSR-W, which uses recycled nuclear waste as its fuel source; a waste to stable salt, or WATSS, facility for recycling nuclear waste; and GridReserve thermal energy storage tanks, so our reactor can act as a peaking plant to complement intermittent renewables.
Moltex was founded in the U.K. in 2014. In 2016, we analyzed all of the places we could deploy our reactor technology and decided that Canada was the best option.
In 2018, we were selected by NB Power from among nearly 100 applicants to deploy our technology in New Brunswick, with the goal of demonstrating first-of-a-kind units next to the Point Lepreau nuclear generating station. That year, we moved our head office to New Brunswick, where we’ve been focused on design and R and D. We’ve developed meaningful partnerships with first nations groups and built a great team, whom we’re very proud of.
In February of last year, Moltex was the very grateful recipient of $50 million in federal funding to continue developing our technology. As part of the terms, we moved all of our IP to Canada. We have also been fortunate to receive funding from the Province of New Brunswick, Ontario Power Generation and many different private investors.
Unlike other nuclear reactors, which use uranium as fuel, our reactor is specifically designed to consume the recycled spent fuel from other reactors. In doing so, we can reduce the volume of long-lived, high-level waste by over 95%. We have the only SMR technology that does not require imported fuel, as it can be fuelled solely by nuclear waste that is already in the country. In Canada, by the time the CANDU fleet reaches end of life, there will be enough spent fuel to power 6,000 megawatts of our reactors. That’s enough to power five million homes.
Globally, the market is about 20 times larger than Canada, and we're the only vendor targeting this market. There are several customers in the U.S. and Europe who have expressed interest in second-of-a-kind units since the first one has been demonstrated in New Brunswick.
This is a huge opportunity. A recent study showed that between 2030 and 2060, a global rollout of the two new reactors in New Brunswick—ours and the one that ARC Canada is developing—will create approximately 500,000 work-year jobs, $60 billion in GDP and $5 billion in government revenue.
At this time, we are conducting critical research and development activities to validate our technology. This work is being carried out at Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, the University of New Brunswick, various U.S. labs—cofunded by the U.S.—and at our own laboratory.
We have completed phase one of the CNSC's vendor design review and are preparing for phase two. We have recently partnered with SNC-Lavalin, an international leader in the field and the only company in Canada to have its design licensed through the CNSC. This additional expertise will help ensure that we are successful.
In summary, we are committed to Canada and pleased with the progress here. However, we would like to see more consistent support for nuclear, given its essential role in meeting the country’s net-zero goals. Environmental regulatory changes implemented since we picked Canada have extended our deployment time here by about three years. Meanwhile, political commitment to nuclear in the U.K. and the U.S. have shortened deployment times there.
For Canada to maintain its leadership in this sector, we would encourage the federal government to take a stronger leadership role to ensure we meet our climate targets and stay competitive.
Thanks, Madam Chair, and thanks to the witnesses for appearing this evening. I'm going to start with Mr. Gorman.
A couple of weeks ago, Mr. Gorman, I listened to you on a podcast on my five-and-a-half-hour drive home to Hamilton. You were talking about the benefits of SMRs. There were some counterpoints given to you. I want to dig a bit deeper into some of the discussion you had on that episode.
As a long-time municipal councillor, I know there's always an element of push-back from neighbours, the community and stakeholders when we deal with applications, whether it's for waste, companies coming to town with a new technology, electricity, or energy from waste facilities, which is the common one I've had to deal with over the years. Oftentimes, people can be quite critical of things that are new. For me, the question is, with this technology.... Again, we're hearing dates of 2028, 2030 and even beyond, in some cases. I think the counterpoint to you, that day I listened to the podcast, was that SMRs are an expensive science experiment. I think the lady who was on with you referred to them in that way. Some in the community might go down that path, at some point in time.
My question to you is, what role does government play from an education standpoint? At some point in time, you'll be dealing with stakeholders. These facilities and SMRs will be a part of our life, from an energy perspective, with the benefits you just talked about. You and others will be making these presentations in front of very large crowds and communities with environmental stakeholders, who will put up their hands and provide some push-back. I guess the question I have is, what role does the government play in terms of assisting with education efforts and dispelling some of the myths that have come about over the last number of years as SMRs are talked about, either in mainstream media or small communities in different parts of Canada?
The short answer I'll give off the bat is this: The most important thing government can do, when it comes to new technologies we're using to confront the climate crisis and lower GHGs, is to be consistent. Be consistent in talking about the tools we are going to use to tackle this crisis. While the federal government—your government—has made significant progress, especially over the last short number of years, in identifying nuclear and small modular reactors as essential parts of a net-zero future, we see how that language is not being used consistently by all policy-makers. It is not being applied consistently with various financial and tax incentives we see coming out of this government, including the most recent green bond framework, tax incentives and rapid amortization measures that have been extended to other clean technologies.
If we want investors, industry, academia and the whole nuclear ecosystem to be able to deliver on its full potential, we're going to need a strong, consistent signal from all levels of government that nuclear is needed for a clean, net-zero future.
When I started in solar just over 20 years ago, that is exactly what they called solar: an “expensive science experiment”. I find it ironic that some of the people who are the biggest proponents of solar are now looking at small modular reactors and calling them an “expensive science experiment”. We are a handful of years away from deploying various technologies that will demonstrate that if we can put them out and they can deliver on the promise of mass production, which small modular reactors are promising to do from a price standpoint, we're going to see, the same way we saw with wind turbines and solar panels, that the cost is going to come down very dramatically, and it will be a very important tool.
Through you, Madam Chair, I thank Mr. Blanchette‑Joncas for his question.
I think that's a very fair comment.
Small modular reactors, the first of their kind, are being deployed only now, and the first ones, as you rightly point out, are not going to be connected to the grid or used for other off-grid applications until later this decade.
That being said, Canada is a remarkable place that requires small modular reactors for various needs. It's not only the jurisdictions across this country, like Alberta, Saskatchewan and some of our eastern provinces, that need to shift away from fossil fuels to cleaner electricity. We're going to have to double or triple the amount of electricity that we currently generate, and it all has to be clean. It's a huge challenge.
Because of that, some of the first planned SMRs, the ones you referred to that Ontario Power Generation chose, General Electric Hitachi, will be connected to the grid by 2028, but in fact they have a licence to do at least four of those units at the Darlington site.
In addition, Saskatchewan, which also has a challenge in phasing its electricity grid off of fossil fuels, is aiming to—and has stated this publicly—construct four or five units of the same size, perhaps with the same technology. In other places across Canada, we envision that there are jurisdictions that are going to use these bite-sized small modular reactors to meet their electricity needs.
I think an important point here is, just in Canada, on the electricity side, we need multiple units, which is going to mean multiple units being deployed after 2030.
On the heavy industry side—steel, cement, mining, the high-temperature heat that's going to be needed to decrease GHG emissions—that's where you're going to see that some of these other technologies, some of which will be available even before 2028, are going to be deployed in multiples again.
We have a challenge leading into 2030, and that's why we need more wind, more solar and more storage, and we need to deploy it as quickly as possible. However, we also need to be looking beyond 2030 into the massive challenge of doubling or tripling the amount of electricity we have. We need to be able to look at reducing GHGs and heavy industry, cement, steel, oil and gas, etc., and that's a challenge that's going to last beyond 2030 into 2050, so, yes, everything that's on table, everything that's coming—
Thank you, and thank you to the witnesses for being here. I must say, it's nice to have witnesses here in person. It's a very welcome change.
I'm going to start with Mr. Gorman.
With this narrative, SMRs will be key or at least useful in getting remote communities, especially indigenous communities, off diesel. However, when I speak to indigenous leaders and people who work with indigenous communities on energy issues, they have been unanimous in rejecting this narrative.
On top of that, we've had the Anishinabek chiefs in assembly, the Chiefs of Ontario and other groups who have come out and said they don't want nuclear technology to replace diesel. They want energy systems that they can implement themselves, that they can understand themselves, that they can employ their people to run. They want systems that have proven technologies that are cheap and available now. They want to get off diesel now, not in 2035.
I'm just wondering how you answer those concerns, because it seems to be radically opposed to this narrative I hear again and again that this will get all of these communities off diesel.
I'd like to quickly move on to our energy needs for the future. In Canada, the group that puts out those projections or scenarios, if you will, is the Canada Energy Regulator. Its report last year on Canada's energy future had a timeline of the various energy sources that would be powering Canada in terms of electricity generation.
For nuclear, it shows, in 2019, 95,000 gigawatt hours—I'm not sure if that's per year—and then by 2050 that will go up to 96,000. That's a gain of 1000 gigawatt hours, which to me doesn't sound like a huge increase compared to their projections for wind, which goes from 32,000 to 188,000. It would be twice as big as nuclear by 2050. Solar would be going from 2,000—and you know solar far better than anyone else in this country, probably—to 62,000 by 2050.
Here are the experts projecting ahead for nuclear, showing, basically, a stagnation, and yet these other energy sources are showing dramatic increases. Could you quickly comment on that?
You're right. The Pickering nuclear plants are scheduled for retirement mid-decade. Given the amount of electricity they produce, it's going to be a tough gap to fill. Small modular reactors, even these first ones that Ontario Power Generation is bringing to Ontario to connect to the grid, will not be available until after that point, which is later this decade.
We are facing a demand for electricity that is coinciding with the Pickering plants coming off. That demand for electricity is growing, so it is a real issue. Of course, you'll have the CEO of Ontario Power Generation here to talk about a strategy for bridging that.
As a little side note here, I'll say that when we talk about doubling or tripling the amount of electricity generation that we have in this country to be able to fuel-switch and electrify things like transportation, electric vehicles, etc., people have a hard time getting their heads around how much electricity that's going to take.
I'll give you an example.
I was speaking to the CEO of one of the steel companies in Ontario, which is going to install an electric arc furnace to power its furnaces. That one company alone is going to require more than a gigawatt of additional electricity just to power its own operations.
This future in Canada in terms of not only creating enough electricity to replace fossil fuels, but also being able to switch these industry players away from fossil fuels for high-temperature heat and electricity is going to be just enormous. We have to start deploying quickly.
Yes, of course. Thank you for your question.
It is a technology that we are developing. It is new. It is innovation that we're developing here in Canada. A lot of the work we're doing to validate it is going on, as I said, in the Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, to verify the science and ensure it can happen safely.
The main product left behind, the biggest volume.... Instead of a CANDU bundle about this size, which is currently high-level waste, the main residual waste is the uranium, and it's no longer high-level waste.
In the CANDU bundle this size, there's a very small amount of high-level waste inside of it, which makes the whole thing radioactive for a long time. We can take out that small bit of long-lived waste and use it as fuel, and the 99% that's left is essentially almost natural uranium, which can be disposed of much more safely and easily. We'll still need the deep geological repository that Canada is looking at building at the moment, but hopefully we can make the job easier by making it smaller and simpler.
Lastly, as we develop the process, we're working with the Canadian nuclear regulator to make sure that this is all done to the highest standards. There's also an international regulator, the International Atomic Energy Agency, which we're working with and which monitors the safety of this process.
Dear colleagues, I'm going to call us back to order. We have two more panels to get through.
I'd like to welcome all our witnesses on this second panel. Thank you for joining us tonight. This is an inaugural committee on science and research, and this is the first study on small nuclear reactors.
First we have, from Bruce Power, Michael Rencheck, president and chief executive officer. From New Brunswick Power Corporation, we have Brett Plummer, chief nuclear officer and vice-president nuclear. From Ontario Power Generation Inc., we have Ken Hartwick, president and chief executive officer.
You will each have five minutes to speak. After four and a half minutes, I will hold up this card. It tells you that you have 30 seconds left.
We have to have interpretation, so if we have technical difficulties and the interpreters can't hear you, we're not going to be able to continue with the witness. For that, I'm very sorry.
We will begin with Mr. Rencheck from Bruce Power for five minutes, please.
Members of the committee, good evening. My name is Mike Rencheck, president and CEO of Bruce Power. Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you as part of your study on small modular reactors.
First, I would like to acknowledge today that I am speaking from the traditional lands and treaty territory of the Saugeen Ojibway Nation, the traditional harvesting territories of the Georgian Bay Métis Council of Ontario, and the Historic Saugeen Métis.
Bruce Power provides 30% of Ontario's electricity safely, reliably, and at low cost while producing zero-carbon emissions. Bruce Power is proud to be able to support the fight against climate change while powering our economy with a made-in-Canada solution and a revitalized, thriving domestic supply chain.
While the world is trying to figure out ways to phase out coal-fired electricity generation, Ontario has already shown how it can be done, with Bruce Power providing 70% of the power needed to achieve this while creating good jobs and producing life-saving medical isotopes. In fact, our pan-national isotope partnership includes the Saugeen Ojibway Nation. I would be happy to discuss this with you in more detail.
Bruce Power takes its responsibility for a net-zero future very seriously. From our net-zero 2050 strategy, including a commitment to be net zero by 2027 in our operations, to our issuance last year of the first-ever nuclear green bond, to the exploration of new nuclear technologies, we are demonstrating leadership in helping Canada reach its net-zero objectives.
In addition, through Bruce Power's project 2030, we are building toward a new site output goal of 7,000 megawatts by 2030, adding approximately 1,000 megawatts of clean energy to the Ontario grid in support of climate change targets and future clean energy needs through continued asset optimization, innovations and leveraging new technology.
We are proud to have been recognized, in the federal government's SMR action plan and in the interprovincial small modular reactor strategy unveiled in March, for our potential role in developing new nuclear technology. We are also pleased that the government provided support recently, through the strategic innovation fund, for the Westinghouse eVinci reactor project that Bruce Power is supporting. We also fully support the SMR project currently being undertaken by Ontario Power Generation at its Darlington site.
Bruce Power, along with our industry, was pleased to see the support for nuclear technology included in the 2022 budget, including support for SMRs from the Canada Infrastructure Bank and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.
With respect to regulation, Bruce Power believes there needs to be a focus on de-risking to enable small modular reactors and other nuclear innovation by streamlining the Impact Assessment Act requirements, licensing, and environmental assessments in general. If we are to meet our net-zero goals in the electricity sector by 2035, we must ensure that regulatory requirements, including impact assessments and licensing, can be done in a timeline that meets our needs for climate change target dates.
Creating optionality by providing and developing a path forward to site and technology selection will help attract much-needed private capital investment and help get the ball rolling on clean energy nuclear projects that we all know will be needed to further decarbonize our economy in sectors well beyond electricity.
To create these options and develop this needed momentum to secure a global leadership role for Canada, all levels of government must work with industry to share in the financial and risk challenges associated with environmental regulations and the CNSC licensing of the technology.
The federal government must also continue to help our industry innovate and lead the fight against climate change through clear policy signals. We continue to seek inclusion of nuclear in the federal green bond framework. Amending other existing programs and measures could create a level playing field for nuclear to compete with other clean technologies. In addition, nuclear and other supplemental technologies, such as hydrogen, should be looked at to further decarbonize our industries.
Canada is a world leader in nuclear, and its CANDU reactors are used around the world. The government needs to support and continue to build on this advantage.
We're at an inflection point in our fight against climate change, and we all understand that the time to take action is now. There has never been a more exciting time in our industry. We are saving lives with new cancer treatments—
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Good evening. My name is Brett Plummer. I am vice-president nuclear and chief nuclear officer at New Brunswick Power. Thank you for the invitation to provide information regarding how small modular reactor technology can help achieve Canada's climate change objectives and add to its economic resiliency.
As background, New Brunswick Power and the Province of New Brunswick were involved in the development of the pan-Canadian small modular reactor road map and action plan. Leveraging New Brunswick's 40 years of nuclear experience, we are actively working with other provinces, utilities and organizations, such as Saskatchewan, Ontario, Alberta, Ontario Power Generation, Bruce Power, SaskPower and Canadian Nuclear Laboratories for the pan-Canadian development and deployment of small modular reactors.
Canada will not achieve net zero by 2050 without nuclear. Many studies from reliable organizations support this conclusion. Renewables and hydro alone will not get Canada to net zero without an increase in nuclear power. Small modular reactor technology is an important technology that the federal government should be aggressively pursuing and supporting.
Small modular reactor technology will be part of the massive electrification of Canadian society in developing clean fuels and supporting clean manufacturing, clean transportation and clean heat while we retire coal and other carbon fuels.
Advanced small modular reactors integrate with renewables, and we will need all the clean energy generation we can build to support the 2050 decarbonization goals. Advanced small modular reactors are critical to support intermittent renewable energy sources when the sun does not shine and the wind does not blow. Advanced small modular reactors being developed in New Brunswick will have a high temperature output and can be used for cogeneration to play a major role in decarbonizing heavy industries, such as in western Canada.
Canada can broaden the nuclear supply chain to build new opportunities in eastern and western Canada. Modular construction methods, as well as advanced manufacturing methods, will also be developed to expand the economic impact across the country with first nations.
By virtue of Canada's being an early mover in the development and deployment of SMR technologies, the larger market opportunities beyond Canada to assist with global efforts to decarbonize are opened up. This current opportunity could be lost if SMRs are not supported. Canada can prosper economically by developing the IP and manufacturing capability in Canada, representing a significant contribution to combatting global climate change while building an economic benefit for Canada. We need a government to streamline policies to support the large-scale buildup of nuclear and to provide financial guarantees and backstops.
Thank you for your interest. I'm pleased to answer any questions you may have.
Yes, Bill . That's correct.
One of our technologies, the first of a kind, fits within the project list. It basically will go through an existing environmental assessment utilizing the province and the CNSC, but as you build out, especially with Moltex, which has a larger capacity, and also with fuel conversion, it really falls into the impact assessment of Bill , as well as the additional units associated with our ARC clean energy, the other technology. Presently, this is a long process, so we're looking for ways not to get around the process but to streamline it.
The other aspect, to your question associated with Mr. Rencheck, is that the CNSC, the regulator, has been extremely co-operative to this day and, as Mr. Rencheck said, is ramping up, but again, we need to look ahead to the future with the build-out and building the nth of a kind, and we're not going to be able to go through the same process for the nth of a kind versus the first of a kind. Once the reactor design is standardized and has been reviewed and approved, really the only assessment at that point should be around any changes associated with the site characteristics or location.
The small modular reactors we are developing operate at a high temperature, somewhere in the order of 600°C. This is very conducive to industrial heat.
I will just make a point. When we think about small modular reactors, we think predominantly electricity, but we really need to think energy. Then we think solar, wind, nuclear, when we really need to think about the integration of all of this energy into energy packages, energy farms, because of the intermittency of solar and wind and, basically, the backstop of nuclear.
This high temperature from nuclear can help generate hydrogen and ammonia, which is a hydrogen carrier. It can also be stored in solar salts. You can store a tremendous amount of energy. You could help to take care of the peaks on the electrical grid. You can also take advantage of when the wind is blowing and the sun is shining to use that energy as you see fit, and distort, potentially....
These high-temperature reactors can be used in many different ways to support the transformation and generation of clean fuels and the electrification—
We were early movers on the small modular reactor in north America, and also in western Europe.
We took the lead in basically collaborating, coming up with a pan-Canadian approach, a road map and an action plan. As a result, we're well down the road through a regulatory review process, through the vendor design review of phase one and phase two, on many of these technologies.
There's an economic advantage there, as long as we continue to support nuclear and small modular reactors. That competitive edge is the fact that we were early movers, and also the fact that many different vendors came to Canada because we have a graded approach associated with evaluating the safety of innovative new technologies.
Now, if we don't act and support the small modular reactors, we will lose that advantage in a very short period of time.
Thank you, again, to the witnesses.
I'm going to start with Mr. Plummer and ask a question I was hoping to ask Mr. Sullivan of Moltex before, but we ran out of time. Since I understand that's the technology New Brunswick Power will be banking on for SMRs, perhaps you can answer it, as well.
The question revolves around a letter that was sent to the a year ago, I believe, by 10 or so American nuclear experts, nuclear regulators, Harvard professors, top diplomats and White House advisers from past American presidencies, who were very concerned about the Moltex technology.
They had two concerns. One is around a fact that Moltex tries to sell as a benefit, and that is reducing the volume of waste that we get from CANDU reactors by 95%. The trouble is, we're ending up with 5% of the really nasty stuff that is still serious waste, and there's plutonium involved. They are concerned, as are others, about plutonium, because it gets potentially into nuclear proliferation, weapons and things like that.
Moltex has called this technology “proliferation-resistant” for various reasons, but a 2009 review by experts from six U.S. national labs found that it was as susceptible to misuse for proliferation as the standard reprocessing technology.
So there's that concern, and the second one is talking about the long-term risk of the waste. Moltex claims the removal of plutonium would reduce the long-term risk from a deep underground radioactivity waste repository, a claim these experts say has been discredited repeatedly.
Finally, they urge that Canada, before making any further commitments in support of this reprocessing, convene high-level reviews of both the non-proliferation and environmental implications of the Moltex reprocessing proposal. They believe that such reviews will find reprocessing to be counterproductive on both fronts.
That was a long lead-up question, but I'm wondering what your response to that is. Since it came out a year ago, I assume you have something to reply.
We've seen the report, and I'm not going to try to comment or discredit the report. I will give you our professional opinion from New Brunswick Power.
We believe that in the future there's energy in used fuel. We need to take advantage of that energy. The world has been reprocessing fuel for decades. Thirty per cent of the used fuel around the world is already reprocessed, and reprocessed safely. We have to have trust in our regulators, internationally and across Canada, to make sure, as we go down and evaluate this process, that we can do it safely.
It will reduce the volume and it will reduce the toxicity of the waste that's left. It's a tremendous amount of energy for future generations, and again, it's done in other parts of the world.
We believe this is the path to go.
Thank you very much, Madam Chair, and thank you to our witnesses.
Mr. Hartwick, I'm going to give you a few questions. You can answer me, but you can certainly submit in writing to the committee. I'm probably going to get into this with other witnesses.
Number one, what is the short-term, medium-term and long-term vision for Ontario Power Generation and energy? Number two, given the demand for energy in the build-out, do you have a worker shortage right now in labour, and where do you see that in the future? Number three, do you support an energy corridor in Canada, and what does that look like?
I'll start with Mr. Plummer. Certainly, it's the same kinds of questions for the medium and long terms.
One thing we spoke about briefly.... I think you mentioned hydrogen. When we look at Canada in the long term, we talk about hydrogen being a major form. This is in the long term, probably 30-plus years out. Number one, can you tell me how nuclear plays a role and how you see that? When we look at Canada right now, natural gas is going to power hydrogen development. Do you see nuclear taking that over, and would you see that at the source—around cities, for instance?
I'm sorry. I'm just going to cut you off. If there's anything else, don't hesitate to submit it in writing. I have only 30 seconds left.
My last question is about the short term. Mr. Hartwick, you can submit this in writing, too. When we look at needing two to five times the energy, and when we see the addition of electric cars coming into our grids, first, can we handle that within a five-year period? This is in the short term.
Second, if we can't, how do we see this from an energy generation standpoint? What does the government need to help with in the short term to ensure that we can add the energy we need as quickly as we can?
I'm out of time, so please submit those answers in writing.
Madam Chair, thank you, as always.
I had a very hard time hearing the translation, but I will answer the question I believe I heard.
Quite frankly, in the construction of large projects, like any project, including hydro projects or other large infrastructure projects, we have to be able to advance the design of the project first and ensure that we have an adequate supply chain. As we do that, we're then able to construct the projects in a timely manner and meet schedule and budget. This condition is predicated on having advanced designs. I think this is where the support needs to come in from the government, to be able to flesh out these designs and get them to a point at which we can buy the materials here in Canada, from our supply chain, and build.
If you look at the overall cost per megawatt hour and look at what exists right now in Ontario, it's quite telling. According to the Ontario Energy Board, today the cost of hydro power is about 6¢, the cost of nuclear is about 9¢, wind is about 15¢ a kilowatt hour, gas is about 15¢ a kilowatt hour and solar is about 49¢ a kilowatt hour. That pricing exists in an electrical grid that has deeply decarbonized. Deep decarbonization is believed to be below the 50 grams equivalent of CO2 per kilowatt hour, and Ontario is presently at 35 grams. We have a good footprint. We have a good plan and a good road map to do that.
We're very similar to Nordic countries with the type of hydro production we have. Ontario's grid is 60% nuclear, 25% hydro and about 8% to 10% renewables, with the rest powered by gas and other entities. To create a clean grid that has the capability of powering an economy, and to get to reasonable cost targets per megawatt hour, I think building it out along those lines will be necessary.
I am calling all of you back to order.
We are at our third and final panel of the evening. I'd like to welcome all our witnesses. We appreciate your joining us. It's an inaugural committee on science and research. We look forward to hearing what you have to say.
From SaskPower, we have Troy King, acting president and chief executive officer; from Electricity Canada we have Francis Bradley, president and chief executive officer; and from Global First Power, we have Jos Diening, managing director.
Welcome to all.
Each of you will have five minutes to speak. At the four and a half minute mark, I will raise a yellow card to let you know you have 30 seconds left. We aim to be fair.
Again, we welcome you, and we look forward to hearing from you.
We'll begin with Troy King, for five minutes.
Thank you, and good evening.
My name is Troy King, and I'm the acting president and CEO of SaskPower.
SaskPower is working toward a future with net-zero greenhouse gas emissions while continuing to provide safe, reliable and cost-effective power to our customers. We are currently on track to have renewables make up 50% of our generation capacity by 2030, resulting in a 50% reduction in our greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels.
To get there, we are making significant investments in a large portfolio of renewables and other generation sources. In fact, by 2035 we expect to rebuild 75% of our existing generation fleet, a system that took 93 years to build. While important, we cannot rely on renewable generation alone. Wind and solar are intermittent sources that are available only when there is adequate wind or sunlight. We also need reliable baseload power available all the time, regardless of conditions.
Currently, the bulk of baseload power generation in Saskatchewan is provided by fossil fuels. With the federally mandated retirement of nearly 1,400 megawatts of conventional coal-fired generation by 2030, there will be a clear gap in our ability to provide reliable baseload power.
In some provinces, baseload power is largely provided by hydroelectric generation; however, Saskatchewan doesn't have the geography to support abundant hydroelectric generation, and the options available to Saskatchewan for non-emitting baseload power are limited. SaskPower is considering a number of options to fill this baseload need, including natural gas, carbon capture technology, geothermal, and nuclear power from small modular reactors, or SMRs.
With the exception of traditional natural gas generation, the other baseload generation options available to Saskatchewan have not been proven at a commercial scale. This means that SaskPower will need to take risks in adopting one of these emerging technologies.
We believe nuclear power from SMRs has the best potential for success in the near future and will fit into Saskatchewan's future power mix of non-emitting generation. That mix is expected to include existing hydro, wind, solar, import, biomass, geothermal and potentially carbon capture technologies, as well as traditional natural gas generation required to back up intermittent renewables and provide peaking services.
In order to enable an emerging technology like SMRs to be a reality in Saskatchewan by the 2030s, we have already engaged in a multi-year planning and regulatory project to potentially bring SMRs to the province. SMRs are expected to play a critical role in the fight against climate change, both through enabling electrical utilities to generate reliably and safely without emissions, and also in the innovative application of advanced reactor designs to assist in decarbonizing various industries.
For the past number of years, SaskPower has collaborated with Ontario Power Generation, Bruce Power and NB Power to evaluate the potential for a pan-Canadian deployment of small modular reactors. By working with this group, we're able to leverage the breadth of experience and knowledge they bring when it comes to nuclear innovation, operating nuclear facilities and managing nuclear waste.
Our decision whether to construct an SMR won't be made until 2029, but we must make significant investments to advance our planning work in order to inform and enable that decision.
In addition to providing stable, safe, emissions-free power, SMRs bring potential for significant economic spinoffs for both Saskatchewan and Canada as a whole, including supply chain opportunities, good-paying jobs, opportunities for economic reconciliation with indigenous peoples, and investments into education and training programs.
SaskPower and the other provincial partners are clearly doing their part to advance SMR technology to provide a solution to meet carbon reduction emission goals; however, we believe the Government of Canada has an important role to play as well.
First, the federal government can share the risk of advancing innovative, first of a kind SMR projects by sharing in the development phase costs. The utilities have already proposed a funding plan, and we would encourage members of the standing committee to support it.
Second, regulatory clarity and consistency as we move through the new federal impact assessment process are another high priority.
Timely federal investments to support the development and expansion of the nuclear supply chain to support SMR deployment across Canada are also very important. Federal investment is also required in nuclear R and D and training, especially in jurisdictions new to nuclear power, such as Saskatchewan.
The move to a net-zero future in the electricity industry will be a substantially larger lift in Saskatchewan than in other jurisdictions in Canada that already have significant legacy hydro resources. The lift will require not only taking on significant risk in new technology development but also making significant financial investments.
SaskPower will be looking to the federal government to share in that financial investment needed to make this shift, including the construction of SMRs in Saskatchewan, with the goal of ensuring that the future cost of electricity is competitive in all regions across Canada.
Thank you for your time. I will be pleased to answer any questions you may have.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I am happy to be here this evening for your study on opportunities related to small modular nuclear reactors in Canada.
I would like to begin by acknowledging that the land on which we gather is the traditional territory of many indigenous peoples. [Technical difficulty—Editor] today from the traditional lands of the Kanien’kehá:ka, or the Mohawk nation.
Electricity Canada is the national voice of electricity in Canada.
Our 42 members generate, transmit and distribute electricity to industrial, commercial and residential customers from coast to coast to coast.
Canada's energy future is electric.
Electricity is a key economic, environmental and social enabler essential to Canadian prosperity. By the government's estimate, Canada will need two to three times the amount of electricity it produces now to decarbonize the other sectors of the economy to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. To do this, the government has committed to a net-zero grid by the end of 2035.
Fortunately, we have a strong start. Canada's electricity grid is already one of the cleanest in the world. Our sector has reduced GHG emissions by nearly half since 2005. More than 80% of electricity produced in Canada is non-CO2 emitting, and 15 percentage points of that are from nuclear energy already.
Like earlier witnesses, we believe that Canada will need an “all of the above” approach to meet the energy needs of decarbonization. That means using a mix of every tool we have available to meet expected energy needs at an affordable cost.
SMRs will be an important option in provinces without substantial hydroelectricity resources as they build a net-zero grid. They also offer an additional option in areas that are experiencing substantial growth and demand. The SMRs' smaller size means they could replace fossil fuel plants. It also means they can be located closer to electricity demand and be right-sized for that use.
This also means advantages for use in remote locations and industrial uses. Right now, remote communities that aren't connected to the grid rely on expensive and dirty diesel generation. SMRs could offer a cleaner and more affordable alternative. For remote industrial uses, like mines or other projects, SMRs could be a reliable source of both electricity and heat.
SMRs offer electricity when you need it, regardless of the weather or the time of the day. This will be important to backstop and to balance the growth of variable renewables like wind and solar, and will make the system more efficient and reliable. After all, using an “all of the above” approach means making sure we use them together.
How do we ensure that the opportunity of SMRs turns firmly into reality?
First, we make sure that there are appropriate resources to facilitate the growth of the SMR ecosystem. Canada is a leader in SMRs. To support this, the federal government has launched an SMR action plan that has identified steps to facilitate the technology's deployment and growth, and Electricity Canada is happy to have joined. The federal government can support the success of this plan by providing appropriate funding to continue the technology's development. Funding programs should be sufficient and timely, so that proponents have access to funds when needed.
Second, we must think about the approval process associated with building an SMR. As you heard earlier this evening, Ontario Power Generation has begun work on an SMR at its Darlington facility and expects it to be in commercial service by the end of the decade. Demonstrator projects at other existing nuclear sites are going to follow. However, without an approved site, a potential proponent must spend substantial money and time to secure the licensing before even considering investing in an SMR itself. Announced federal support for preplanning studies could help address financial issues, but not time ones.
Third, we must be ready to answer Canadians' questions about what expanding nuclear power means for them. Nuclear energy is safe, cost-effective and essential to meeting net zero. Understandably, Canadians may still have some concerns, but if we're serious about meeting net zero, we need to work together to address these and ensure support among the public we serve.
SMRs will be an important piece of our clean, affordable and reliable electricity system for decades to come. To do so, industry and government must continue to work together. After all, 2035 is less than 13 years away. That's just 4,961 days to build a net-zero grid. That may sound like a lot, but tomorrow it's going to be 4,960 days.
Thank you very much. I look forward to the discussion.
Good evening, members of the Standing Committee on Science and Research.
My name is Jos Diening, and I am the managing director of Global First Power.
Before I begin, I'd like to acknowledge that the project I will be discussing tonight is located in the unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinabe, which is also covered by the Williams Treaties. As I am joining virtually, I'd like to acknowledge the land from which I am calling, which is the Williams Treaties First Nations Mississaugi territory.
On behalf of the Global First Power team, I'd like to thank you for this opportunity to speak about small modular reactors, our company and our first micro modular reactor project.
Global First Power is a joint venture between Ontario Power Generation and Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation.
We are proud of Global First Power's vision, which is to use small modular reactors to play a key role in achieving Canada's climate goals and enabling energy security in the areas we support.
SMRs are inherently safe, low-carbon and cost-effective generation options to provide the energy people need, regardless of location. We see micro SMRs as a solution for remote communities, mines or heavy industries that currently depend on diesel for energy needs. This diesel is expensive at times, is difficult to transport to remote locations, and has emissions that impact the environment. We offer a reliable, clean, cost-competitive alternative to this. We want to bring micro SMRs to these locations to provide reliable power and energy security.
In addition, we have a lot to be excited about. We're proud that we are on track to build Canada's first micro modular reactor at Chalk River Laboratories, a site owned by Atomic Energy of Canada Limited and managed by Canadian Nuclear Laboratories. We are still in the designing and planning phases of this project, but we expect that the plant will be in commercial operation by the late 2020s.
We're proud that we're targeting to complete our environmental impact statement and submit it, as part of our licence to prepare the site, to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission by the end of this year. This is an exciting time for Global First Power and the nuclear industry.
Our project is a commercial demonstration that aims to showcase the technology and the benefits of SMRs as an energy solution. Our proposed micro SMR is an Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation-designed micro modular reactor. It is a generation IV reactor that has inherently safe characteristics, and each unit can provide up to five megawatts of electrical power once installed. That power runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week for 20 years.
This is approximately enough electricity to power 5,000 homes or the life of an average mine. Multiple units can be deployed to meet the specific energy needs of remote mines and communities, offering an abundance of energy that can be leveraged not only to power homes and industries, but also to enhance infrastructure such as water treatment, communications and our greenhouse food production.
SMRs are small, and ours is very small. Our micro modular reactor, when built, together with an adjacent power generation facility, will have a footprint the size of an Olympic running track. In addition, due to their modular design, the construction period is short, approximately one year. This is achieved by the modularization of our plant, with the bulk of the manufacturing being completed off-site.
As mentioned at the beginning of my remarks, the primary market for Global First Power plants is off-grid applications in mining camps or remote communities that have traditionally been dependent on diesel power. Our reactors can provide an abundance of reliable, non-carbon emitting power to those communities. One micro modular reactor, over its 20-year lifespan, provides energy equivalent to up to 200 million litres of diesel fuel.
In addition to our mission of a cleaner energy solution, we also believe that engaging with the communities in which we plan to build our power plants is extremely important. We have done and plan to continue to do extensive outreach. We succeeded in achieving five capacity and relationship agreements with indigenous communities and organizations. These agreements have varying levels of engagement, with four communities providing traditional and cultural knowledge that we will use as part of our environmental impact submission.
We will continue this dialogue with communities as we progress through the next steps of our Chalk River project, and we hope and expect to collaborate with even more indigenous communities in the future, when we deploy SMRs to other sites after our commercial demonstration is successful.
We believe that small nuclear needs to be part of Canada's climate change plan, and that small nuclear enables other renewable energy sources by providing stable baseload power that can be relied on when intermittent renewables such as solar and wind are not generating. By enabling renewables and getting communities and industries off diesel, SMRs can be a central part of not just Canada's fight against climate change, but the world's.
Thank you for this opportunity, and I'm happy to take questions.
I want to start by restating that SaskPower hasn't made any decisions yet. We are starting on that path of investigating SMRs as an option to provide a solution for non-emitting energy here in Saskatchewan.
A big part of the entire process of licensing and preparing to make a decision will be going through the duty to consult process, working with various first nations across the province. In particular, when we get to the point of identifying sites, we are going to want to look at those individual sites and the communities they impact.
We think there are opportunities for first nations involvement, whether it is through participation in the project itself.... We know that these projects can be very capital-intensive and require a lot of funding up front.
We're looking at ways to design the construction of it to allow potential for various partners to participate in the ownership of it. We're also looking for potential on the employment side and on the supply chain.
Again, we're at the very early stages of our SMR journey here in Saskatchewan.
That's about all that's commercially available to us.
SMRs, to us, provide the best option for moving forward. However, in the time frame for us to get our first SMR in place, we're looking at a target date of 2034, if everything goes well, and that would be around the 300 megawatts size.
To replace all of our current thermal generation.... We have about 3,600 or 3,700 megawatts of thermal generation today, and that's not including growth. SMRs look to be part of that solution, and ideally we could have up to four SMRs by the mid-2040s. However, as I think I noted in my earlier comments, in Saskatchewan, where we do not have access to hydro generation, we have very limited options in terms of providing baseload non-emitting power. We can certainly have access to wind and solar; however, that's intermittent energy, and SMRs are one of the two options that we believe are available to us to apply baseload power as we go forward.
Okay. Thank you kindly.
Switching gears a little and going on to Francis, we were talking about the cost associated, and I quickly wrote down some of the dollar per cents that you have for the kilowatt cost.
Have we ever looked at the carbon footprint of all the other power sources, be it hydro, with all the carbon that is in the cement that is needed for that, or with the wind power, with the steel that needs to be smelted, usually, typically through coal in other countries?
Have you guys done an analysis on the carbon footprint per kilowatt per cents?
Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
I welcome our witnesses to our historic parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Research.
Let me just do my best here to ask a couple of questions in relation to science and research in this domain.
When we talk about SMRs, for you and the panels that came before, obviously, this is what you are into and what you do every day, but I would say that it's not a topic familiar to many people. In terms of research and science, what I'd like to know is....
To be fair, maybe I'll ask Global First Power and Mr. Diening to answer first, since he hasn't gotten a crack at the can yet. Then I'll follow with Electricity Canada and Mr. Bradley.
How do we train? Are we training enough people? Do we have enough labour? How is the research going in this sector? How does Canada compare to our international peers? Any suggestions, comments or feedback you can give on that, I would be interested to hear from you. I left it very broad deliberately, but I would love to get input from you. Do you work with our educational institutions or with our research companies? Is there any collaboration with those types of institutions?
Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
If I may, I would like to recognize and thank the witnesses who are joining us this evening.
My first question is for Mr. Bradley.
Mr. Bradley, I heard in your presentation that Electricity Canada would like to see investments being made in small modular nuclear reactors and in other technologies, so as to reduce the dependence on fossil fuels.
I understand it is important to support this technology. But I am trying to see how Canada can compete with large markets such as the Russian, U.S. and Chinese markets, which have more diplomatic force and more production force. We know that those markets' competitive advantages consist in them being able to ensure a high-volume standardized production of small modular nuclear reactors and achieve economies of scale.
So I would like to hear your thoughts on that. Do you have any data for us that would help us understand how we could compete with other international markets?
Thank you for that very interesting question.
I think what we need to be looking at, and what many of the speakers presenting today were talking about seeking to develop, is essentially an expanded homegrown Canadian sector.
We actually have a history of this. This is not new in our nuclear space. We built a CANDU ecosystem in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. We did not rely on technology and expertise from other players. The same is true in many other areas of operation with respect to electricity. We are world leaders when it comes to electricity generation for hydro and when it comes to high-voltage electricity transmission.
As I said earlier, we're going to have to take an “all of the above” approach. It isn't just making sure we're developing an SMR ecosystem here in Canada; we're also going to have to develop other areas as well, like carbon capture utilization and direct air capture. We need to continue to expand wind, solar and nuclear and look at new technologies to improve the efficiency of our networks. We're going to have to look at transmission.
With two to three times the growth needed, all of these are going to have to be on the table, but we do have a record of actually developing homegrown sectors for this.
Thank you, Mr. Bradley.
I understand your point of view on diversifying technologies, but the small modular reactor technology is not mature and is not developed. It will not be usable for another 10, even 15 years, so not before 2030 or 2035. As we know, Canada is trying to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
I remain optimistic, but I would like to know whether you have any data for us on whether that technology will really enable Canada to achieve net-zero emissions. If not, why not invest in technologies that are being developed in Canada, which are already mature and where we already have a competitive advantage? Why not let other countries with more force produce standardized small modular reactors and achieve economies of scale?
We could then use that technology over the short or the medium term. But in the meantime, we could focus on what is being done efficiently in Canada.
It's a micro modular reactor. It's not micro modular like a hot water tank in my basement—it's something a little bigger.
An hon. member: [Inaudible—Editor]
Mr. Richard Cannings: I was curious. I was just wondering what a micro modular size was.
In terms of getting back to the science and technology and the training that's necessary for the new technicians we'll need for an industry such as this, if you build something like this in a community, is there an opportunity for that community to staff the facility with people from that community?
Again, that's what seems to be very important to the remote communities and indigenous communities I talk to. They want to be able to give their residents a chance to do that work. However, nuclear power seems like something a little more complicated than running a diesel plant.