Ontario Drops Plans for 2 New Nuclear Reactors Because of High Costs


Photo: Flickr, CC

Nuclear Sticker Shock: "It's just ridiculously expensive."

Whether you think nuclear power is a good or bad idea, one thing is certain, it's expensive. Very expensive. And that's before the almost inevitable cost overruns... This is what the Canadian province of Ontario seems to have realized. It's canceling plans for 2 new reactors because of sticker shock and out of "responsibility to Ontario taxpayers". And while everybody's talking about money, what I'm really wondering about is: What is Ontario's plan to clean up its power grid?According to the Globe and Mail, Ontario's official number for the nulcear reactors was $2,907/kilowatt, but Steve Thomas, a professor of energy policy at the University of Greenwich in London, claims that the real cost would have been closer to $7,000/kilowatt.

Cheaper Green Alternatives?
This begs the question: How much wind power, solar power, (responsible) hydro power, or even energy conservation (maybe investing in a smart grid that wastes less, and can use more intermittent wind and solar...) can you buy for that kind of money? That's a study I'd like to see. There are probably many low-hanging fruits that would cost a lot less than $7k/kilowatt, or even $2.9k/kilowatt, especially with making buildings and industry more energy efficient.

One of the big benefits of reducing energy demand over increasing the supply is that in most cases, you make the investment once and then you get benefits more or less forever. For example, if you insulate a house, it might be expensive at first, but you'll get the benefits for years to come without investing new money. Big gains could probably be made by putting incentives in place to make new commercial and residential buildings much more energy efficient than they are now, and by also encouraging the retrofit of older buildings.

One of the first things that people who want to take their house off-grid is to reduce energy consumption as much as possible (through things like insulation and energy efficient appliances, but also through behavioral changes). This will make it much easier (and less expensive) to then generate enough clean power.

The same should apply with the province of Ontario. Start by reducing energy consumption as much as possible, this will make it much easier to then generate enough clean power to displace coal and other dirty sources.

Via CBC, Globe and Mail
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