Nuclear Power and the Canadian Economy

Power-lines
Power lines. Source: Canadian Nuclear Association.

How do sources of power affect electricity rates?

For most Canadians, the price of electricity is a simple number, ranging from about 7¢ to 18¢ per kilowatt-hour (¢/kWh).

However, this price isn’t so simple. It reflects your power company’s mix of energy sources, and their costs vary widely.

Large-scale power generation of any kind is expensive, whether it’s from nuclear energy, coal, natural gas, or renewables. Each source has a different price for its raw materials, from free sunlight to about $100 per kilogram of uranium. The total cost also involves building, operating, and finally decommissioning power plants and equipment.

This brochure looks at the role of nuclear power in the Canadian economy, including its effect on power rates.

How does nuclear power compare in cost?

When compared with other power sources, nuclear energy requires a large investment up front. Building a nuclear power plant is expensive. On the other hand, a tiny amount of uranium produces a huge amount of power. Compare uranium to coal, using the same weight. The uranium delivers 20,000 times more energy than coal!

For power sources such as hydro, solar, and wind, the raw materials cost nothing, but the equipment does. Of these, hydroelectric power is the most affordable. But Canada is already at more than 90% of its hydro capacity. Few appropriate places to build dams remain.

Provinces that use nuclear power enjoy some cost relief in their electricity mixes. In Ontario, for example, only hydro costs less than nuclear power. Gas and wind are almost twice as expensive as nuclear power, and solar is nearly ten times as expensive.

Energy-cost-per-kWh

Does nuclear power support the Canadian economy?

Nuclear energy keeps electricity costs down, which frees up money for consumers and businesses to use elsewhere. Nuclear energy provides more benefits:

Tax revenue – The Canadian nuclear industry pays about $1.5 billion in federal and provincial taxes, contributing to government programs that support individuals and build communities. Much of this revenue comes from exporting uranium and medical isotopes.

Stable cost – While the cost of electricity from nuclear energy is low, it is also stable, mainly because uranium is readily available in Canada. This helps businesses plan, and make long-term investments.

Secure domestic supply – Having about 9% of the world’s uranium-ore reserves gives Canada a secure source of energy, which stabilizes our economy and international standing.

DGR
Manufacturing companies such as ATS Automation in Cambridge, Ontario, depend on stable electricity prices. Source: ATS Automation.

Does the nuclear industry build the Canadian workforce?

The Canadian nuclear industry employs about 30,000 people, and creates another 30,000 jobs by buying goods and services. Many more jobs will come as Ontario upgrades and replaces key parts in its reactors.

These jobs are stable. A nuclear power plant takes time to build, and lasts for decades. It creates jobs for generations, supporting strong and stable communities.

Careers in the nuclear industry offer challenging work, with good salaries and benefits. The women and men in the nuclear industry must be highly skilled, so the industry hires Canada’s top talent and attracts workers from around the world.

Sources: 

Canadian Nuclear Association, https://cna.ca/.