Bruce Power, the partnership that runs the Bruce nuclear generating plant, which is North America’s biggest clean energy centre, has been running a series of TV ads pointing up the biggest greenhouse gas reduction in North America since the Kyoto Protocol. Using the slogan “Nuclear up, coal down,” Bruce Power simply points out a central fact about electricity systems the world over. This fact is: if you want more electricity, your choice is either nuclear or fossil fuel. And if you currently use a lot of fossil fuel to make electricity, and you want cleaner electricity, your only choice is nuclear.
This is the beauty of the Bruce Power ads. They are simple, and they are absolutely true. It is absolutely true that when nuclear generators were added to the Ontario system beginning in 2003, coal use dropped. And coal did not just drop. It plummeted. And emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), the principal greenhouse gas pollutant, plummeted with it.
I defy anybody in the anti-nuclear crowd to say otherwise. Take it to the advertising standards board: sue Bruce Power for false advertising. You will get laughed out of the room. That is because of the simple fact that Bruce Power is telling the simple truth.
But the truth is an amazing thing. You can’t change it, but if you really try you can ignore it and hope others don’t notice it. Many people, as Churchill said, “occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened.”
That statement sums up, with depressing precision, the situation in Ontario. Nuclear power happened. It catapulted Ontario into leadership in Canada, and made our province an economic powerhouse which is apparently the fifteenth richest jurisdiction in the word.
More to the point, our nuclear fleet makes more electricity than all the other generation types combined; see Tables 1 and 2 in the left hand sidebar for hourly and so-far-today output by generation type. As I have said in this blog, nuclear is the Number One reason Ontario’s CO2 emissions from electric power generation have plunged from a whopping 43 million tons in the year 2000 to around 13 million in 2013. Bruce Power is absolutely bang on when it says “Nuclear up, coal down.” (My own proposal for the slogan would be “Nuclear up, carbon down.” But that is just a quibble.)
This CO2 reduction is simply beautiful to behold. I think all the world should see it. I think that jurisdictions the whole world over would benefit by following Ontario’s example of how to power a rich modern economy with CO2 emissions that are so low. I think Ontarians would benefit it they were more aware of their leadership position in this world of ours.
Ontario just released its latest version of its long-term energy plan. In touting it, the various politicians have referred to the clean power our province is now producing. None of them has mentioned nuclear as the cause of this beautiful effect. This though
- Nuclear is the cause, and
- the reactors were designed and built right here in Ontario and represent not only a major economic sector but also a huge export opportunity for the province.
Oh well. Here’s hoping that Bruce Power’s advocacy gets more traction.