Thought Leadership

The Message of New Nuclear at CNA2019

Category: News & Events
Alastair McIvor • February 15, 2019

It is always productive to attend the Canadian Nuclear Association conference. The Canadian nuclear community is not large, so it is possible to have a significant representation from all its diversity in one building. That is an invaluable opportunity for anyone in our sector, of course — not just to pursue new business, but also to hear first-hand what the broader community is thinking and feeling.

CNA2019 is scheduled for Feb. 27-March 1 in Ottawa. It will be my first CNA conference representing Modus Strategic Solutions, which gives me a new perspective on current and new nuclear projects, and where Modus can contribute to successful execution.

The theme this year is “New Nuclear,” and it is refreshing to have the main program opened with a panel of young professionals sharing their perspectives. I will also be hoping to speak with people coming to CNA from the Capital Exchange SMR event the day before, sponsored by Natural Resources Canada. It is the first time in my memory that the Canadian government has been so proactive in stimulating innovation in the nuclear sector, pairing investors with vendors and operators. Any buzz coming from that event at the SMR seminar at CNA will be very welcome.

Finally, I see there are several speakers, and programmed items at CNA2019 which focus on communication. This topic is so vital for our industry, but particularly in Canada, and particularly right now.

Why is communication key? Last year’s report from the federal government’s Generation Energy Council proposed the best path forward for Canada’s energy system, based on widespread public consultation. It says we need to double our electricity generation, and use that extra electricity to power electric vehicles, electric heated buildings and electric rail. Displacing fossil fuels in those three areas is our best route to reducing carbon emissions.

Let that sink in: we need to double our current electricity supply, all from carbon-free sources. There is certainly potential for extra hydro and other renewables in Canada, but there must surely also be a role for nuclear.

We all know that there is a growing crowd of start-up nuclear companies who are proposing a wide range of alternative nuclear technologies capable of powering our lives and generating health products while reducing our carbon emissions. CANDU nuclear technology is also perfectly capable of providing that extra power. So there are no technological roadblocks preventing nuclear from making a big contribution to our society.

The roadblock that remains cannot be solved with technology. We need communication that builds understanding in political circles and in the public forum.

I will aim to leave the CNA a better communicator than when I arrived.