There were no surprises on either side of the issue — environmental groups demonizing the nuclear industry and offering a green ‘solution’ while the nuclear industry claimed they got it all wrong.
Somewhere in the middle of the nuclear-versus-green-energy debate lies the answer that will provide needed power to Durham Region residents — and all of Ontario — on a sustainable basis.
The latest salvo in the ongoing debate came last week with a report by a coalition of environmental groups calling on the Province to essentially abandon nuclear power and replace it with renewable energy alternatives. It looks good on paper — replacing nuclear reactors that reach their operational limit with a mix of green energy technologies — but gives short shrift to the impact of such a decision on Durham Region and, quite frankly, is just too good to be true.
The nuclear industry is deeply entrenched in Durham Region. We’re home to two separate nuclear plants that continue to provide safe and relatively inexpensive power to the grid. Between Ontario Power Generation, which operates the plants, and related industries that provide supplies and ancillary services to the industry, literally thousands of Durham Region residents are employed in this sector.
Furthermore, OPG and Durham Region residents are not opposed to the development of alternative energy sources, yet remain steadfast supporters of the nuclear industry. Preliminary work is underway for proposed wind farms in Clarington and conservation efforts continue to grow among the citizenry through regular communications efforts between government and citizens.
From that perspective, the environmental coalition made up of Greenpeace, the Pembina Institute and others won’t find many full-measure supporters here in Durham. But it’s not as if the principle behind the coalition’s Renewable is Doable report is difficult to embrace.
The solution, then, lies not in a one-or-the-other approach, but in developing a combination of reliable and proven power sources such as nuclear with evolving renewable energy technology. If that means the development of more wind farms or large solar arrays in conjunction with new reactors, it should be so. And any renewable energy source will require a foundation that provides power to the grid without having to rely on the caprices of the sun or the wind. Nuclear should provide that base power, at least until more affordable, practical and long-term renewable sources are in place.
In a perfect world, we would all power our homes and industries with renewable energy sources that left no waste and had no environmental impact. But we don’t live in that world, we live in one that relies on existing methods of inexpensive power. The best, cheapest and most reliable method we have today is through nuclear.