Nuclear lobby blasts renewable power

ONTARIO - Replacing proposed new nuclear plants with renewable power could mean overwhelming the landscape with solar panels or wind turbines, a pro-nuclear lobby group has argued.

A forest of wind turbines stretching in a semicircle from Cobourg, Ont., to Mississauga and north almost to Lake Simcoe would be needed to duplicate the output of the two proposed reactors, the Organization of Candu Industries argued.

Alternatively, you'd need to blanket the landscape with solar panels stretching from Pickering to Newcastle.

The OCI made its pitch to a panel studying the environmental impact of new reactors at Darlington. The three weeks of hearings ended April 8.

The organization is made up of engineering, construction and manufacturing firms and others that supply Canada's nuclear industry.

Environmental groups have used the hearings to paint the nuclear industry as a threat to human health and the environment, one that will leave a legacy of highly toxic waste for centuries to come.

OCI disagreed.

"These plants would act as a catalyst to rejuvenate the nuclear industry and revitalize the Canadian nuclear supply chain, creating thousands of high-paying jobs locally and across Ontario," OCI's general manager, David Marinacci, told the panel.

"They would also help to position Canada's nuclear industry to seize additional domestic and global opportunities."

Ontario Power Generation, which has applied to build the new reactors, hasn't yet said what type of reactor it will buy, or who will make it.

Marinacci said the Candu reactor made by Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. would provide the biggest benefit. "Building Candu reactors would result in 24,000 more person years of employment than foreign designs," he told the panel.

He cited a Conference Board of Canada study that predicted building new reactors in Ontario would kick-start Canada's nuclear industry. That in turn would provide momentum for exports that would contribute between $34 and $55 billion to the Canadian economy, he said.

Marinacci also argued that the impact of renewables is not entirely benign.

Based on Ontario wind conditions, the OCI contends, it would take 5,300 square kilometres of territory to replace the proposed nuclear plants with wind turbines.

Solar panels would eat up 1,100 square kilometres, the group says.

The presentation drew some skepticism from Jocelyne Beaudet, a member of the panel, who suggested that wind turbines produce more power than the OCI had estimated, and therefore fewer turbines and less space would be required.


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