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September 21

Wind Energy vs Nuclear Energy

New Brunswick is the home of the only Nuclear Generating Station outside of Ontario. The Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station produces 39% of NB’s energy and has a capacity of 705MW. It has been running for 37 years and was built at an estimated cost of $1.4 billion. Refurbishments to the station were completed in 2012 at a cost of $2.4 billion – a billion dollars over budget. A further $500 million has been spent to curb reliability issues that emerged after the costly refurbishment. For reasons both financial and energy-related, the conversation about nuclear energy and renewables is one that needs to be had here in New Brunswick. 

New Brunswick is the home of the only Nuclear Generating Station outside of Ontario. The Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station produces 39% of NB’s energy and has a capacity of 705MW. It has been running for 37 years and was built at an estimated cost of $1.4 billion. Refurbishments to the station were completed in 2012 at a cost of $2.4 billion – a billion dollars over budget. A further $500 million has been spent to curb reliability issues that emerged after the costly refurbishment. For reasons both financial and energy-related, the conversation about nuclear energy and renewables is one that needs to be had here in New Brunswick, where wind electricity is becoming more popular. 

Comparing the Risks of Nuclear and Wind Electricity

Nuclear energy exists as a dangerous novelty of the past and is an antiquated option that cannot meet the challenge of facing our climate crisis. This is a bold statement to be sure, but one based entirely on reasonable fact. Firstly, nuclear energy poses some significant environmental and health risks. Most obviously, nuclear catastrophes are an example of this. Whether they be Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, or Fukushima, the risks and consequences of these disasters are well documented and need not be illuminated here. But beyond the alarmism of possible catastrophe, there are tangible environmental and health issues associated with nuclear energy. Nuclear physicist and nuclear supporter Manfred Lenzen found average life-cycle emissions for nuclear energy, based on mining high-grade uranium ore, of 60 grams of CO2 per kilowatt-hour (g/kWh), for wind of 10–20 g/kWh and for natural gas 500–600 g/kWh. This, coupled with the fact that we must store uranium in depositories for 100,000 years, shows the significant environmental, and by extension, health risks posed by nuclear energy. Along with health risks, scientific discourse continues about the possible effects of nuclear energy on wildlife habitats.  

Nuclear energy exists as a dangerous novelty of the past and is an antiquated option that cannot meet the challenge of facing our climate crisis. This is a bold statement to be sure, but one based entirely on reasonable fact. Firstly, nuclear energy poses some significant environmental and health risks. Most obviously, nuclear catastrophes are an example of this. Whether they be Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, or Fukushima, the risks and consequences of these disasters are well documented and need not be illuminated here. But beyond the alarmism of possible catastrophe, there are tangible environmental and health issues associated with nuclear energy. Nuclear physicist and nuclear supporter Manfred Lenzen found average life-cycle emissions for nuclear energy, based on mining high-grade uranium ore, of 60 grams of CO2 per kilowatt-hour (g/kWh), for wind of 10–20 g/kWh and for natural gas 500–600 g/kWh. This, coupled with the fact that we must store uranium in depositories for 100,000 years, shows the significant environmental, and by extension, health risks posed by nuclear energy. Along with health risks, scientific discourse continues about the possible effects of nuclear energy on wildlife habitats.  

Meanwhile, wind energy gives us no concern for most issues listed aboveAlthough the impact of wind energy on wildlife habitats is a concern, there are numerous mechanisms in place to mitigate this, including Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) and the continued research on the effects of wind farms on different species. Overall, nuclear energy is riskier and has a worse environmental impact than wind energy. Furthermore, it is true that investing in wind energy is also enormously less costly. According to a study done by the investment banking firm Lazard, wind only costs about 1.4 cents kilowatt-hour of energy.   

Meanwhile, wind electricity gives us no concern for most issues listed above. Although the impact of wind energy on wildlife habitats is a concern, there are numerous mechanisms in place to mitigate this, including Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) and the continued research on the effects of wind farms on different species. Overall, nuclear energy is riskier and has a worse environmental impact than wind electricity. Furthermore, it is true that investing in wind energy is also enormously less costly. According to a study done by the investment banking firm Lazard, wind only costs about 1.4 cents kilowatt-hour of energy.   

Renewable Energy is the Future

Wind, solar, and other renewables are the future. Meanwhile, nuclear is a novelty of the past that cannot meet the challenge of mitigating the effects of the on-going climate crisis. Global nuclear electricity production in terawatt-hours per year (TWh/y) peaked in 2006. The percentage contribution of nuclear energy to global electricity peaked at 17.5% in 1993 and declined to under 11% in 2014. Nowadays annual global investment in nuclear is exceeded by investment in each of wind and solar.  

As of 2015 in the US, five nuclear reactors were under construction, all over-budget and behind schedule. Many nuclear power plants take 10-15 years to build, whereas large wind farms take roughly 2-3 years. Smaller projects take less time than that. From these facts, it is clear to see that nuclear energy is on the decline, and therefore cannot meet the energy needs of consumers to provide clean energy to combat the current climate crisis. To further this point, between 2007 and 2017, nuclear energy generation declined by 0.4% annually worldwide. In that same period, wind grew by 20.8% annually, and solar grew by 50.2% annually.

Wind, solar, and other renewables are the future. Meanwhile, nuclear is a novelty of the past that cannot meet the challenge of mitigating the effects of the on-going climate crisis. Global nuclear electricity production in terawatt-hours per year (TWh/y) peaked in 2006. The percentage contribution of nuclear energy to global electricity peaked at 17.5% in 1993 and declined to under 11% in 2014. Nowadays annual global investment in nuclear is exceeded by investment in each of wind and solar.  

As of 2015 in the US, five nuclear reactors were under construction, all over-budget and behind schedule. Many nuclear power plants take 10-15 years to build, whereas large wind farms take roughly 2-3 years. Smaller projects take less time than that. From these facts, it is clear to see that nuclear energy is on the decline, and therefore cannot meet the energy needs of consumers to provide clean energy to combat the current climate crisis. To further this point, between 2007 and 2017, nuclear energy generation declined by 0.4% annually worldwide. In that same period, wind grew by 20.8% annually, and solar grew by 50.2% annually.

Wind energy is clean, affordable, efficient, quicker to build, less risky overall, and more rapidly developing than nuclear energy.

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In the Canadian context, between 2005 and 2017, wind grew by 27,000 GWh and solar grew by 3,500 GWh. In New Brunswick, generation from wind power increased from none in 2005 to 7% of total generation in 2018. So, particularly in the province of New Brunswick, nuclear has remained costly, risky, and stagnant, while wind is growing rapidly, representing a prime opportunity for investment and development.  

Wind energy is clean, affordable, efficient, quicker to build, less risky overall, and more rapidly developing than nuclear energy. Wind energy represents one of the best opportunities we have to transition to clean, renewable energy. Naveco Power is proud to be involved in wind energy projects here in New Brunswick and looks forward to the opportunity to bring more wind energy to the province, as we transition to a cleaner energy future. This will create jobs, save money, and provide New Brunswickers with a cleaner future 

 

Resources 

https://www.cer-rec.gc.ca/nrg/ntgrtd/mrkt/nrgsstmprfls/nb-eng.html?=undefined&wbdisable=true#:~:text=GHG%20Emissions,-New%20Brunswick's%20GHG&text=New%20Brunswick's%20emissions%20per%20capita,24%25%20(Figure%208). 

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/nb-point-lepreau-nuclear-plant-running-like-newborn-1.5652829 

https://energypost.eu/renewable-energy-versus-nuclear-dispelling-myths/ 

http://large.stanford.edu/courses/2014/ph240/murphy2/ 

https://www.renewableenergyworld.com/2015/04/28/renewables-vs-nuclear-do-we-need-more-nuclear-power/#gref 

https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/science-data/data-analysis/energy-data-analysis/energy-and-greenhouse-gas-emissions-ghgs/20063 

https://www.forbes.com/sites/rrapier/2019/07/07/wind-and-solar-power-nearly-matched-nuclear-power-in-2018/#352acc239eec 

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-energy-nuclearpower/nuclear-energy-too-slow-too-expensive-to-save-climate-report-idUSKBN1W909J 

In the Canadian context, between 2005 and 2017, wind grew by 27,000 GWh and solar grew by 3,500 GWh. In New Brunswick, generation from wind power increased from none in 2005 to 7% of total generation in 2018. So, particularly in the province of New Brunswick, nuclear has remained costly, risky, and stagnant, while wind is growing rapidly, representing a prime opportunity for investment and development.  

Wind electricity is clean, affordable, efficient, quicker to build, less risky overall, and more rapidly developing than nuclear energy. Wind energy represents one of the best opportunities we have to transition to clean, renewable energy. Naveco Power is proud to be involved in wind energy projects here in New Brunswick and looks forward to the opportunity to bring more wind energy to the province, as we transition to a cleaner energy future. This will create jobs, save money, and provide New Brunswickers with a cleaner future.  

 

Resources 

https://www.cer-rec.gc.ca/nrg/ntgrtd/mrkt/nrgsstmprfls/nb-eng.html?=undefined&wbdisable=true#:~:text=GHG%20Emissions,-New%20Brunswick's%20GHG&text=New%20Brunswick's%20emissions%20per%20capita,24%25%20(Figure%208). 

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/nb-point-lepreau-nuclear-plant-running-like-newborn-1.5652829 

https://energypost.eu/renewable-energy-versus-nuclear-dispelling-myths/ 

http://large.stanford.edu/courses/2014/ph240/murphy2/ 

https://www.renewableenergyworld.com/2015/04/28/renewables-vs-nuclear-do-we-need-more-nuclear-power/#gref 

https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/science-data/data-analysis/energy-data-analysis/energy-and-greenhouse-gas-emissions-ghgs/20063 

https://www.forbes.com/sites/rrapier/2019/07/07/wind-and-solar-power-nearly-matched-nuclear-power-in-2018/#352acc239eec 

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-energy-nuclearpower/nuclear-energy-too-slow-too-expensive-to-save-climate-report-idUSKBN1W909J 

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