Possibilités de suppression progressive des centrales nucléaires au Canada et mondialement

Le vieillissement prématuré et la fermeture prévisible de la centrale nucléaire de Pointe- Lepreau ne sont qu'une indication du futur de l'industrie nucléaire mondiale : en effet, dès 2030, 80 % de la capacité nucléaire mondiale aura disparu pour cause de vieillissement. Et pendant cette période, la construction de nouvelle centrale aura cessé d'exister tout comme les espèces en voie de disparition. Au N.-B. comme au Québec, les centrales nucléaires Pointe-Lepreau et Gentilly 2 doivent ou bien être fermées ou bien être remises à neuf à coûts de millions et au péril de nos vies d'ici 2008.

L'an dernier, l'Allemagne a fermé le premier de 19 réacteurs qui font partie de leur plan de suppression progressive des centrales nucléaires et de leur plan de remplacement par l'énergie renouvelable et par la conservation de l'énergie. L'Allemagne a mis en place un plan ambitieux pour encourager l'énergie verte et a adopté comme une cible à long terme de produire la moitié de son électricité de sources renouvelables d'ici 2050.

Au lieu de gaspiller des milliards de dollars dans une industrie agonisante, il est de beaucoup préférable de se poser les bonnes questions, de mettre en place un leadership politique éclairé et de s'engager résolument dans la suppression progressive de l'énergie nucléaire pour réussir une transition en douceur vers les énergies renouvelables.






Possibilities for nuclear phaseout
in Canada and globally

Shawn-Patrick Stensil
Director of Atmosphere and Energy/
Directeur, Atmosphère et Énergie
Sierra Club of/du Canada

The premature ageing and likely shut down of New Brunswick's Point Lepreau nuclear station is but a sign of things to come for the global nuclear industry - by 2030, 80% of the world's nuclear generation capacity will shut down because of old age. Meanwhile, the construction of new nuclear plants has dried up, meaning nuclear power is quietly going the way of the do-do bird.

In Canada, CANDU reactors are also on the endangered species list. In both New Brunswick and Québec, the Point Lepreau and Gentilly-2 nuclear stations must be closed or undergo expensive and risky reconstruction projects by 2008. All of Ontario's nuclear reactors are set to shut down between 2010 and 2020.

Some forward-thinking countries, however, have read the writing on the wall and charted out 'exit plans' for getting out of the nuclear age. In November 2003, Germany shut down the first of 19 reactors as part of a long-term plan to phase out nuclear power and phase in conservation and renewable energy. But Germany is by no means a leader - both Italy and Austria chose to close and dismantle their reactors following referendums in 1987 and other countries such as Sweden Belgium are also phasing out their nuclear reactors.

Germany shows how getting of nuclear power is closely linked to developing renewable energies. Since passing its nuclear phaseout 
legislation in 2000, Germany has ambitiously worked to foster green 
energy, especially wind. Over 12,000 megawatts of wind power have 
been installed since 2000, making Germany a world leader.

Meanwhile, because of the premature ageing of its CANDU reactors, Canada has a de-facto nuclear phase out plan, but has no plans to phase in new energy sources to compensate for the loss of its nuclear reactors.

In Canada, especially in Ontario and New Brunswick, we are mired by our imprudent and ongoing commitment to nuclear power. Ontario has wasted over 6 years, over a billion dollars, and untold political resources on restarting the Pickering nuclear station. These resources could have contributed to fostering cheap, clean, green energy alternatives. Worse, it was revealed recently that it would take another 3 billion dollars to finish the repair job.

So how can Canada break its nuclear habit?

Since passing its nuclear phase out legislation in 2000, Germany has ambitiously worked to foster green energy. Over 12 000 megawatts of wind power have been installed since 2000 (one-third of world wind capacity) and 100 000 photovoltaic solar panels (300 megawatts) have been installed on rooftops across Germany. Germany has a long-term target of producing 50% of its electricity from renewables by 2050.

A recent study by the Campaign for Nuclear Phase out outlines how Canada could shut down its coal and nuclear plants and lower its greenhouse gas emissions through a programme of energy conservation, high-efficiency gas generation (combined heat and power plants), inter-provincial imports, and renewables. Simply put, Canada has energy options.

Of course, the nuclear lobby will inevitably tout more nuclear power as a solution to our nuclear problems, but after 50-years of cost over runs, technical glitches and accidents, their promises of clean, cheap and reliable energy hold little credibility.

What's needed to ensure a smooth transition to a non-nuclear future is political leadership that asks the right questions - do we want to keep nuclear power on life-support or not? Should we continue to spend billions of dollars on an industry that will have all but disappeared internationally by 2050?

Canada's already on the way to a non-nuclear future. The right questions, political leadership and a commitment to phasing out nuclear power will ensure that we make the transition as smoothly as possible and don't waste billions of dollars and resources on a dying industry.

Campaign for Nuclear Phaseout Reports / Rapports du Sortir du Nucléaire