Thought Leadership

Our Shared Nuclear Future: Emerging Technologies and Opportunities to Engage

Category: News & Events
N. Ryan Smith • February 8, 2018

CNA2018 – The Canadian Nuclear Association’s annual conference and trade show is coming up on Feb. 21-23 in Ottawa, and as always, I’m looking forward to attending this important forum highlighting Canada’s leadership role in nuclear power.

It’s a privilege to talk with industry leaders and hear about the innovation behind the scenes and the vision for what I like to call our “Shared Nuclear Future.”

This year’s theme, Canada’s Nuclear Advantage: The Next Generation, feels especially appropriate as I think of our Shared Nuclear Future. Consider one of the topics I’m most interested in hearing about: the emergence and commercial deployment of SMR and Advanced Reactor Technologies. It really feels like there has been tremendous momentum in the past year to move from prototype to production.

While it is easy to get lost in the excitement of the technical challenges overcome by our nuclear innovators, and the meaningful strides made in clearing regulatory hurdles, the industry must remember that the promise of these technologies is two-fold, and each is as important as the other.

1) Prove the Technology – We are on track!
2) Demonstrate the Cost/Benefit – Are we on track?

I want to see if the industry is starting to focus its messaging on the cost of implementation, operation, and sustainability of the technology. This dialogue must start now, as the make-or-break factor will be cost, cost, cost. The socioeconomic benefits are immense, the technology is impressive, and the carbon policy is a critical underpinning. But ultimately, for this technology to take off, we have to prove it can be done at a lower cost than the alternatives. I want to hear it and see it from industry leaders – front and centre!

As I think about our Shared Nuclear Future, I’m also looking forward to listening to the panels that will focus on equal representation of gender, heritage, and other diversity issues in the industry. Specifically, I see a huge socioeconomic and educational opportunity in engaging indigenous communities and giving them the chance to be part of the SMR movement.

There is an opening for the companies advocating for this technology to engage the people in the communities they mean to serve. It’s time to start putting the well-intended words around gender equality and indigenous engagement into action, and the SMR movement is a perfect opportunity for all genders and backgrounds to be a part of something special in the nuclear industry from the grassroots. Imagine the possibilities: new reactors, new ideas, new equality.

The third topic that comes to mind as I think about our Shared Nuclear Future is the need to take stock of where we are and what comes next on today’s priority work. Now that we have some miles behind us on OPG’s Unit 2 Nuclear Refurbishment, and plans well underway for Bruce Power’s Unit 6 Major Component Replacement, what have we learned so far and how can we adjust as an industry that is fully vested in these projects, to keep moving forward on a positive trajectory?

There is more than $25B in refurbishment projects planned, and millions more in life extension and sustaining asset management work. To tie the golden thread through this blog: without successful execution of these megaprograms – safely, with quality, on time, and on budget – it will be hard to convince anyone that a future of SMR deployments can be reliably counted on to be cost-effective.

Our Shared Nuclear Future, indeed…

In the past, I’ve attended this show from the owner/operator side of the business, so this will be my first time viewing the show through the lens of an industry partner. It will be a great opportunity to reconnect with old friends and colleagues, as well as meet new ones. If you’re planning to be there, let’s be in touch.