Nuke pursuit anything but PowerWise

Toronto Star: David Suzuki - December 15, 2008

As Canada's industrial centre, Ontario needs a lot of electricity. At one time, it got most of this power from water-driven turbines, hence the name Ontario Hydro. But the name has changed to the Ontario Power Authority, an indication of the province's increasing reliance on other sources of electricity, especially nuclear power.

Because Ontario's demand continues to grow, it's assumed that supply must also continue to grow and nuclear has been touted as the most reliable source of that increasing power.

I've always thought it was crazy to plan on steady growth forever. It can't be maintained in a finite system such as our biosphere. Energy conservation makes a lot more sense, and it has been proven to be effective. After the rolling brownouts engineered in California by Enron in 2001, the state embarked on a conservation program that slashed usage and saved billions of dollars.

With that in mind, I approached Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty last year and told him that, with enough inspiration and information, the public was ready to do its part. He directed me to PowerWise, the province's energy-conservation program, and I agreed to appear in a series of TV spots and billboards for PowerWise. (Neither I nor my foundation received any payment for my participation.) We took a humorous approach to encourage viewers to do things such as add insulation to their homes or replace wasteful incandescent light bulbs with efficient CFLs to conserve energy and save money.

I'm proud of the ads. They were immensely popular and were even used by conservation programs in other provinces. And according to PowerWise, they worked.

So it's with great disappointment that I've decided to stop appearing in them. I'm doing this to protest the Ontario government's intention to pursue nuclear power.

Building new plants will be incredibly costly. Every nuclear power plant built in Ontario so far has had huge cost overruns, has been behind schedule, has failed to deliver the amount of electricity promised, and has had a shorter lifespan than promised.

It gets worse. About half of Ontario's power plants have had serious problems that have led to shutdowns. So taxpayers paid even more to repair the plants and to purchase electricity from other regions during the shutdowns. Nuclear energy has turned out to be the most expensive form of electricity in Ontario by far. (And that's not even mentioning the usual concerns, such as terrorism risks and radioactive waste!)

If Ontario's nuclear power plants were any other kind of high-priced product, customers would demand a refund and complain to the Better Business Bureau. And you can bet they wouldn't be hoodwinked into making the same purchase again.

Yet, that's exactly what's happening.

Energy analysts have shown that Ontario doesn't need to build more nuclear power plants and, in fact, could replace the energy provided by existing facilities with a combination of energy-conservation programs and expanded green-power projects. The government can get a jump-start by replacing its aging nuclear reactors with alternative green energy sources now. In March, Ontario's energy and infrastructure minister will have to decide whether or not to rebuild the aging Pickering B nuclear station or to mothball it. I think he should close it and invest the money saved in alternative green-energy generating facilities.

By focusing on renewable energy, Ontario could create a huge number of sustainable jobs and put clean energy onto the grid immediately. It could retool the manufacturing sector and retrain workers to be part of an innovative green-collar workforce. It could export these products and expertise to other parts of the world.

It's already starting to happen ... just not here.

Some European countries have transformed their economies and workforces by pursuing renewable energy. U.S. president-elect Barack Obama will undoubtedly follow their lead.

Ontario has the opportunity to become a leader in this growing field, and use its influence as Canada's most populous province to inspire other provinces. But the province is falling behind by relying on outdated, dangerous, and expensive nuclear power.

And we all know what happens to players in the global economy who fail to innovate, implement cheaper and more efficient solutions, and create new industrial sectors.

They get left behind.

David Suzuki, co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation, is a scientist, environmentalist and broadcaster


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Nothing can Increase forever.

Suzuki's comment "I've always thought it was crazy to plan on steady growth forever. It can't be maintained in a finite system such as our biosphere" has hit the nail on the head. The real problem which faces the world is that of continued growth in the global population. Until we do something about that we are wasting our time with short-term energy solutions.

Submitted by Mauricegavin at 3:33 PM Friday, December 19 2008

Don't Kid Yourself.....Canada has already been left behind

June, 2008: Ontario Liberal Party AGM On the weekend of June 13 -15, the Society of Energy professionals visited the Ontario Liberal Party's Annual General Meeting, set up a table, handed out souvenirs and pamphlets, and met-and-greeted..... Society President Rod Sheppard and HEALTH MINISTER George Smitherman

Submitted by JMJ at 8:39 AM Thursday, December 18 2008

in response to weasle

that was a television programme. fiction. that would never happen in real life. yeah everyone is just goring to vannish into thin air. you airhead use your brain nuclear is the way to go!!!

Submitted by rory knight at 11:13 AM Wednesday, December 17 2008



Submitted by rds at 12:33 PM Tuesday, December 16 2008

Weasle Drone

You ARE kidding right?

Submitted by altec1ca at 11:29 AM Tuesday, December 16 2008

BE AFRAID of nuclear

If you want to know why not to go nuclear, watch the video "Aftermath Population Zero", in which humanity vanishes from planet earth. In this scenario, nuclear reactors are obviously left untended, as they would be in reality in the event of a natural disaster or bio-warfare attack. The reactors all melt down. God help France if that happens there.

Submitted by weasle drone at 10:01 PM Monday, December 15 2008


to foghorn leghorn

i give up; what is "the theory"? are you a creationist? as for the political well it IS political and i don't see why i should shell out to pay for a nuclear power plant to run my refrigerator. let those who want to crank the a/c all summer long let THEM pay for it - or turn the damn things off.

Submitted by gonzo at 9:32 PM Monday, December 15 2008

The solution is to use less energy

quite a few criticize Suzuki, but has anybody tried conservation? The "off" switch on an appliance is supposed to mean "off". Untill off = off, then most everybody is a hipocrit because very few try to use less. Darlington actually cost > 7 cents per KWhr, but the government massaged the books to make everybody pay for the Hydro's incompetence in project management.

Submitted by efj at 9:07 PM Monday, December 15 2008

David Suszki please go home to Salt Spring island where you live

I bet he has a wood stove (environmentally friendly) uses a ferry (environmentally friendly) travels by air (carbon credits). He is a hypocrite. Wind power and solar are a sometime thing can't be relied on!! Nuclear is the way to go!!

Submitted by lyndie at 9:00 PM Monday, December 15 2008

Where was Suzuki ?

"Shock to Trance " Those were wise words by Obama commenting on the way North American's do business. Did Mr. Suzuki just got the magic answer to the World's biggest challenge ? We shouldn't go Nuclear, we shouldn't go back to dirty coal and we must not depened on importing oil from the Middle East. Fine, than what you propose Mr. Suzuki ? Beside just talking and oppodsing for the sake of opposing, come up with a logical answer. With the orld facibg so many challenges we never faed before, it is VITAL to come up with a logical answer, no more talk, but action is needed to solve the real problem we face. Remember " Why can't the poor just eat cake if they are ot of bread ? " Sound familiar !!!

Submitted by michaelhomsi at 8:46 PM Monday, December 15 2008

Our Homer Simpson

In an episode of 'The Simpson's', Homer envisions an enormous dunking bird that bobs it's giant head up and down endlessly as if it is drinking water. It is his concept of how to generate clean electricity instead of using nuclear power. Some real live people are making green energy plans on par with Homer.

Submitted by builder.m at 7:21 PM Monday, December 15 2008

Mini Nuclear Plants

There are small self-contained "Nuclear Power Modules" being developed by Hyperion Power Generation which will render the Darlington style of Power Plant obsolete. This is not pie-in-the-sky stuff, check out their webpage:

Submitted by kevinbrown at 7:17 PM Monday, December 15 2008


When Suzuki starts walking the walk of conservation

I may start to take his talk seriously. Until then articles like this are just a good chance to laugh at his hypocrisy.

Submitted by Cdnexpat at 6:29 PM Monday, December 15 2008

Policy & Vision vs Hubris & Positions

It gets a little tiring for us all in the general public to see attacks on individuals & opinions - discuss the ideas & concepts so we can all benefit. For me, while I do not think one form of power (nuclear, wind, solar etc.) is the answer to our problems, they all are a part of the answer. I challenge the Ontario government (and other provinces) to inverse the pyramid of generation. In their policy direction for electricity it is time to create a vision of a healthy economic future. The time is now to focus on energy conservation (cheapest of all) with local power generation (without costly transmission) from renewable sources. As we assess the deficits, then decide what nuclear or natural gas would be needed. Dont sign Nuclear contracts in March until you have a Green Energy Act in place. Remember as supplies dwindle, the prices of fossil fuels and uranium will continue to rise exponentially. Think ahead! Clean, Green, Diversified, Now!

Submitted by JamesC at 6:12 PM Monday, December 15 2008

Thanks Shakush

Keep in mind that regardless of where the H2 comes from, the Energy Returned on Energy Invested (EROEI)is negative. That is it takes 4-5 TIMES MORE energy to make H2 than you get back. That is, the net energy loss on the production/storage/transportation/consumption of H2 is up to 80%. Hydrogen is not a fuel, it's an energy transfer medium.

Submitted by JRWakefield at 6:06 PM Monday, December 15 2008

Not all power is equal

Mr. Smitherson has correctly pointed out that the nuclear expansion that is being planned is not peak load power generation, but base load generation. He is planning for projected base loads ten to fifteen years from now, not the shorter term trends that fluctuate with the economy. Most of the growth in Ontario's electrical generation capacity in the past 20 years has been in peak load, mainly in natural gas-fired thermal plants that can be brought on line in minutes to handle the evening spike. Little base load capacity has been added to the grid during that period. Power is also classed and sold according to its availability and reliability. Both nuclear and gas-thermal are at the high end of scale. The power is there when you need it, which is a good thing when peoples lives and livelihoods depend on it. Many of the green power sources, such as wind and solar, are at the low end of the scale. They are there when the gods are merciful.

Submitted by RogerC at 5:52 PM Monday, December 15 2008

France gets 80% of their electricity from nukes

Just because Ontario Hydro was so inefficient doesn't mean everybody is.

Submitted by Foghorn Leghorn at 3:57 PM Monday, December 15 2008


Why would anyone listen to such a hypocrite?

Suzuki claims to be a scientist but wants to jail anyone who doesn't believe The Theory. And he's got a couple of very large houses and he travelled the country last year in a 38 passenger bus with 8 people in it. Clean up your own act Dave before you start lecturing me.

Submitted by Foghorn Leghorn at 3:55 PM Monday, December 15 2008

to gonzo..

Why does this have to be made political and one what basis are you basing your conclusion that nuclear power is the most expensive? The Pemba institute? I sure hope not.

Submitted by altec1ca at 2:56 PM Monday, December 15 2008

Remember Faust?

"Faust" (and the adjective "Faustian") has taken on a connotation distinct from its original use, and is often used today to describe a person whose headstrong desire for self-fulfillment leads him or her in a diabolical direction, accoridng to Wikipedia. We are seeing a lot of this these days. Dalton was propped up by the Working Families, a coalition of unionists who worked hard to get him elected. Is he in their debt and how will this relaionship affect Dalton's sense of fairness and objectivity? It seems to me that Ontario Hydro is manned by one of the most successful unions on planet Earth. My guess is Dalton's thinking on green energy is biased by their influence. And while I'm mentioning Faust, don't forget about the axis of weasels.

Submitted by Dr. Strangelove at 2:55 PM Monday, December 15 2008


Limiting Growth

1967 GTO, I agree with you but I think it a little difficult to achieve zero -sustainable, or no growth. On the paradise that is Vancouver Island, that is a common theme heard from time to town in certain towns- "now that we have arrived, we should stop any more growth". Some suggestions to achieve the 'ideal- zero growth, have included: Building a Berlin type wall around the town complete with armed sentries; forced sterilization (eugenics as proposed by the 'great Tommy Douglas'); enforced birth control (as in China); and making the community an 'undesirable' place to live. LOL GTO 67,I am interested to know your possible 'solutions'.

Submitted by Shakush at 2:40 PM Monday, December 15 2008

JR Wakefield,

Good comment, I completely agree with you. The naive in our society evidently are not aware, that the vast amount of hydrogen that is currently being produced, comes from hydro (not hydro electric power), but guess what? Hydrocarbons, as in natural gas, (or CH4). The auto manufacturers too, fail to mention this little fact when they advertise 'future hydrogen fuel cell cars'. Certainly hydrogen is a wonderful fuel, but not if it has to be manufactured from methane gas or any other hydrocarbons. As such, it will remain to be a very costly fuel until such time as we can learn to defy some of the rules of science and generate it from other sources such as sea water where it takes more power input to generate the H2 than the H2 provides us with as a fuel.

Submitted by Shakush at 2:20 PM Monday, December 15 2008

Selective accounting

I'm surprised and disappointed that David Suzuki seriously writes "Nuclear energy has turned out to be the most expensive form of electricity in Ontario by far." For an environmentalist to ignore the external costs of coal and indeed gas is not only shocking, it tends to make me think that his entire mindset is wrong. David Suzuki has claimed in interviews that he is not reflexively anti-nuclear power, but this piece puts the lie to that claim. He clearly does not see climate change as a serious threat if he is willing to run down one of the stronger tools to act on it.

Submitted by joffan at 2:07 PM Monday, December 15 2008

Why Solar Panels?

WHY NOT I like many of you, live north of the 49th parallel where in the winter time there is very little sunlight particularly on the 'wet coast'. Thus solar power relatively speaking, would only provide a very small amount of power during the months of Oct., Nov, Dec, Jan and Feb when we most need it. The capital cost per unit of energy generated, as compared to the summer time, would be very high, I will not bore you with the details. Solar power in Canada, in the wintertime, does 'not fly'. I heat my house with electricity and I want it heated, 24/7, not just for those few hours a month that the sun shines, albeit at a low, inefficient, angle.

Submitted by Shakush at 2:05 PM Monday, December 15 2008

Nuclear opposition not based on facts

Opponents of nuclear often talk about public subsidies and cost overruns for nuclear energy, but they never apply this line of thinking for government investments in wind and solar. The latter two are also incapable of providing a stable source of electricity. Furthermore, nuclear waste can be reprocessed, dramatically cutting its radioactivity; in addition, the next generation of thorium reactors is going to make this point almost moot. Moreover, most European nations are pro-nuclear; on the other hand, those nations who abandoned nuclear power for 'clean energy' - like Germany - have been forced to build more coal and gas plants, every time. Nuclear power is hardly outdated or fails to innovate: reactor designs keep evolving (Suzuki must know this). And finally, Obama is a nuclear power proponent; why mislead the public and imply otherwise? The truth is this: nuclear power can end our dependency on coal and gas. Wind and solar cannot.

Submitted by Dean P. at 1:45 PM Monday, December 15 2008

Could be worse, could be better.

You're right, Darlington came in WAY over budget, at about $14 billion for 3,500 MW (4 $/W). Apply inflation to that and divide by uptime of about 85 %, and you get almost 6 $/W (Moody's prices new nuclear at 7 $/W). But wind is more expensive and solar even more so: a 1 kilowatt solar installation costs more than $10,000 and is only up 10 % of the time (see running data from the panel at the CNE's Horse Palace), i.e., 100 $/W! Oddly, many countries like nuclear because it fits in with their weapons program, which Canada doesn't have. But the alternatives are still way more expensive, except for ... geothermal which is less risky cost wise being scalable (start small and scale up: economies of scale).

Submitted by Bill L. at 1:16 PM Monday, December 15 2008

Re: Crazy to plan on steady growth forever...

Suzuki's comment in this regard would be more convincing if accompanied by a challenge to the prevailing wisdom that we have to have ever increasing population growth and immigration. A truly sustainable environment and economy requires a limit on population. Our real challenge is to break free of the fact our economy and social programmes are hooked on an ever increasing population, just like a giant ponzi scheme.

Submitted by 1967PontiacGTO at 1:08 PM Monday, December 15 2008

To Tim Bee

Solar panels are very expensive. To retro fit a home is at least $25,000 and that's to provide only 20% of your electrical requirements. Large electrical load appliances, like your stove, cannot use the power from batteries. And to store the power you would need several hundred batteries in your basement (and have to be replaced every 6-7 years). Realize in the winter daylight is less than half the day, and cloudy periods gives us even less power. You likely do not have enough roof space, or land for that matter, covered in panels to get the power you need.

Submitted by JRWakefield at 12:52 PM Monday, December 15 2008

To Dick Cheney

Wind provides less than 14% name plate 80% of the time. Between Nov to Jan we see the sun 15% of the time. And as for hydrogen, what electrical power source do you recommend we use to generate the H2?

Submitted by JRWakefield at 12:47 PM Monday, December 15 2008



Conservation would be a good place to start. Not one governemnt in Canada has tackled the challenge and that is shameful. We really are a stupid nation, stupid about giving away our oil, stupid about our lack of leadership on global warming and stupid for not taking on conservation seriously. I have never been more disgusted to call myself a Canadian. For me, an older gent it won't make much difference but for the kids we will go down as the most dangerous generation in history.

Submitted by Ron McAllister at 11:57 AM Monday, December 15 2008

Why not

Why not refurbish those car plants and make solar panels and wind turbines? Using solar panels will be less expensive in the long run and maybe insisting that new houses have a few installed when built will show people how they work and demystify the whole thing. Also, the provincal or federal government should commission the building of one solar panel house in each major city in Canada to show people how it works and allow people to learn about them. Once we start building and buying them, I'm sure people will embrace them.

Submitted by Tim Bee at 11:46 AM Monday, December 15 2008

Nuclear power is viable only with public funds

It is a well-known fact that nuclear power is not cost-efficient and there has never been a profitable nuclear power plant. The only way nuclear power is viable is through huge influx of public money (i.e. tax dollars) to keep it working. And of course there is the small problem as how to dispose of radioactive nuclear waste. This money is much better spent on investing in alternative energy sources like wind, solar, hydrogen, etc.

Submitted by Dick Cheney at 11:42 AM Monday, December 15 2008


The Nuclear Option

Mr. Suzuki should stick to subjects that he has knowledge of and training in, such as genetics, but NOT energy and NOT climate. Mr. Suzuki's and Al Gore's crusade on global warming is more and more heading for the scrap heap of hoaxes. EG on the 'mild west coast of Canada', on Vancouver Island, the city of Nanaimo, just reported it's lowest temperature for this day in history- minus 15 deg C. Global warming, yeah sure.

Submitted by Shakush at 11:00 AM Monday, December 15 2008


More facts Suzuki ignores

He complains about growth on a finite planet, then, David, why do you not advocat stopping all immigration? 250,000 new Canadians, most of whom come to Ontario, require more energy. New immigration swamps all attempts at conservation. But we do not hear this from Suzuki. Why? Also, The EU is building more coal fired plants because solar and wind are pathetic failures.

Submitted by JRWakefield at 10:33 AM Monday, December 15 2008


David Suzuki, where have you been?

Thank you for your position. As you must know, here in Nanticoke there is a proposal for two nuclear reactors. We realize here what it means to go nuclear. Bruce Power promotion is everywhere, with adds and cash injections. Waste is the moral issue here for the generations to come. We also understand the need for the production of power necessary for the manufacturing of cars and steel. With 400 years of coal vs. 70 years of uranium left on this planet, we here with our existing power infrastructure want clean-coal technologies implemented, along with all the green alternatives, not nuclear!

Submitted by RWG at 10:28 AM Monday, December 15 2008


to altec1ca

if you include ALL the costs which includes disposing of spent nuclear fuel, decommissioning reactors, and so on, I am quite sure that you will find nuclear is by far the most expensive. i must say that david suzuki really gets under the skin of the right-wingers! i wish HE would run for leader of the liberal party. i propose he be made leader of the Coalition government.

Submitted by gonzo at 10:15 AM Monday, December 15 2008

This problem is much too complex...

to make simple pronouncements like "No Nuclear". I usually agree with Suzuki, but here I think we need a realistic approach. A fascinating idea, and one which I think we should be exploring further, is the use of nuclear for the production of hydrogen to fuel the hydrogen economy.This was a few years back, but on a CBC radio show they discussed how we use only a small fraction of the energy available in each "pellet" of nuclear fuel and that there is no real reason why we can't use more of the energy other than regulations. We should be looking at making nuclear more efficient along with renewables to meet our needs. When more electricity is produced than is needed, the excess could be used to produce hydrogen. This hydrogen could fuel cars or be used as a buffer, when demand is high or renewables are down, fuel cells could add electricity to the grid. It's just a thought and idea. There will be no other way to move to hydrogen without including some "non-renewables" in the mix.

Submitted by mf123 at 10:09 AM Monday, December 15 2008

Read again, please

TFPM, altec1ca and marching have all missed Dr. Suzuki's main argument. As far as Obama being in favour of nuclear energy, his major policy speech on energy does not state that. I would say Obama is very wary of expanding nuclear production.

Submitted by LeafManinRoch at 9:55 AM Monday, December 15 2008

Normally I like Dr. Suzuki

However wind power is unreliable and we don't have enough rivers that flow strong enough for hydro electric therefore nuclear is the only way to go. Unless we want to go back to more fossil fuels.

Submitted by Kruge at 9:54 AM Monday, December 15 2008

Let me count the inaccuracies

I suggest that Mr. Suzuki hires a fact checker. Obama is clearly on the record in favour of new Nuclear power plants. There is a resurgence of new Nuclear plants in Europe where they get a lot more of their power from Nuclear power (France is in the 80's, even Slovakia gets 50% of its power from Nuclear). Following Europe's lead is more wind but also a lot more nuclear. The reason why Ontario has not demanded a refund from the nuclear plant makers is because the feds own that company (AECL) and Canadian governments generally do not sue each other (which is what Suzuki is advocating). Which brings me to my final point, perhaps it is time for Ontario to buy from a reliable manufacturer (AREVA, Westinghouse) instead of propping up AECL.

Submitted by TFPM at 8:19 AM Monday, December 15 2008

Barack Obama..

I am sure I read somewhere Obama said he supports building more nuclear plants. As for being "the most expensive form of electricity by far" I think Mr. Suzuki had better redo his math. I am not saying nuclear is the only option on the table but it is not the boogie man as portrayed in this article. Everything the Europeons is not always the best option. Just ask Denmark or Germany how their wind program has worked for them. They now have to build more dirty coal plants.

Submitted by altec1ca at 8:09 AM Monday, December 15 2008


Ontario is Rapidly Being De-Industrialized

Onrio is losing manufacturing capability right, left and centre. And with GM and Chrysler, sure to die, even with a bailout, Ontario's demands for electricity will lessen. Yet we continue to pump billions of dollars into nuclear, which has some of the best union contracts this country has ever seen-get on with these folks and you have it made in the shade.

Submitted by Templeton Jones at 7:53 AM Monday, December 15 2008


A well meaning but not realistic person

David Suzuki's TV ads are cool and worked to encourage people to use less electricity. He did some good there. But to oppose the nuclear power option will only do severe damage to Ontario and Canada in the long run as Ontario does not have other realistic options if we want the factories left and homes to have sufficient electrical power in future. We can't depend on wind power (not consistent and no storage). Fossil fuel based options (oil, coal, natural gas) are dangerous as the fuel source is commodity trading based (and look what happened to oil prices!). The future, for good or bad, is nuclear and David should be working to improve nuclear systems not oppose them.

Submitted by Marching On at 7:40 AM Monday, December 15 2008

when i was growing up

only the very rich had air conditioners. now they are pretty much standard equipment in all homes. and these are the greatest consumers of energy. if you turned on every appliance in my house at the same time the consumption would not equal that of one air conditioning unit. so, why don't we simply limit a/c use instead of wasting money building these nuclear power plants that have NEVER come in on time and under budget

Submitted by gonzo at 7:30 AM Monday, December 15 2008

Citizens Interest at Stake

Thanks David Suzuki for at least trying. One cannot help wondering whose interests our leaders hold dearest.Obviously not ours. Whether Liberals or Conservatives, they seem to care the most about the lobby groups or corporations with deep pockets. At this time and age it shouldn't take much for our leader to know thatthe nuclear route is not the right one! We have a history of failed promises and under deliveries with Nuclear Power. The safety aspect too is far from being beyond questions. Most European countries are investing in Wind Energy, why not Ontario? This should be a topic tipping the balance in the upcoming Provincial election. It is about time Politicians are held accountable on such decisive matters in our life. Or should we wait for a nuclear disaster? Governments want to rely on Nuclear, privatize more, deregulate, and cut costs on maintenance. Haven't we learned any lessons from past experiences! Lello.

Submitted by lello at 7:26 AM Monday, December 15 2008

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