Monday, May 30, 2011


The bloom has gone from the rose of Nuclear Energy in the wake of the Fukushima disaster.

For the past ten years nuclear was becoming the darling ofn the energy movement. Even some environmental groups were getting on-board and promoting it as a greener alternative to coal, natural gas and other fossil fuel generated electricity.

All of that re-branding and playing down the potential dangers, as remote as they are, was for not because when something goes wrong it really goes wrong. This means opportunities for Labrador Power in American markets where the goal is to decommission more coal facilities and increase the percentage of greener sources of reliable electricity. Nuclear had been a significant competitor, but as I said the bloom is off the rose.

I have been saying this for a while now. Some critics in these parts keep throwing up the potential of shale natural gas and the infrastructure that has been built to generate electricity from natural gas in New York State as examples of the lack of opportunities for Labrador Power. They say there are no markets and our power is not competitive in  those that are available. Short term thinking as far as I am concerned. We need to be looking to the future.

The reality is the Americans, like us, have to get away from the heavy emitters of greenhouse gases, and while large scale hydro projects are expensive, they are good long term investments. They are even more attractive when project managers have to content with future carbon taxes which will create further financial burdens for American industry.

So given that there will be significant opportunities and that a significant replacement, nuclear, is falling off the table, our strategic position is only getting better. I think the province needs to go back to the table and look at developing the entire green Lower Churchill Project.

What has me thinking about this today is the news out of Germany, which has become the first major industrialized nation to go non-nuclear. The government has announced that will shut down all the country's nuclear power plants by 2022. It would appear that the lesson of the Japanese in-ability to deal with the disaster has countries abandoning nuclear. Germany, like the United States, depends on nuclear for about 1/4 of it's electricity.

The United States and Canada will be following suit as global trade is impacted by emission penalties that will make non-green energy too detrimental to profits.

As Europe's largest industrial nation looks to the future they want safe, reliable and economically viable electricity. That means smart grids, new investments in transmission infrastructures and more hydro and wind generated power.

Fukushima was a dramatic and horrible experience, but it has provided an opportunity for this province as the Americans and Ontario are forced to rethink the environmental and economic costs of nuclear energy.

That is why the current deal, which I am still supportive of in many respects, needs to be expanded. The markets will be there, the economy of scale will make the naysayers more comfortable and we will be a power titan in a few generations.

In the meantime, Canada gets to get rid of three major polluting fossil fuel generating facilities on the East coast, we have control over our energy needs for generations to come and the country's manufactured exports will remain competitive with other industrialized nations.

The iron is getting hotter, we need to be prepared to answer the door when opportunity knocks. In this case, it appears our past government was knocking on the doors to create the opportunity.

It appears that the Lower Churchill Project looks better all the time.


Dale Kirby said...

I suspect most of us are interested in developing the entire Lower Churchill Project.

If anyone tells you that we should go through Quebec, get them to contact me and I will teach them to read at my own expense.

killity said...

Quebec's money is as green as anyone else's.

Anonymous said...

killity said...
Quebec's money is as green as anyone else's.


Apparantly, so was Joey, green that is.

Greg said...

shhhh, Dunderdale will be trying to build a Trans-Atlantic cable next.

Mark said...

If it's true that we can't go through Quebec, it's only true because people like Thomas Mulcair would never let us.

Anonymous said...

If history has taught us anything, it is not to trust or have anything to do with Quebec when it comes to electricity.

Anonymous said...

And yet Danny Williams made a secret 40 year deal to sell hydro to Schefferville and another sweetheart deal with Emera via Hydro-Quebec wires for recall power. On top of that they spent five years trying to get HQ to be an equity investor in the Lower Churchill!

But the awesome businessman Danny Williams cooked up a great deal where we sell overpriced electricity to ourselves. As long as it's not Quebec buying a billion dollars worth of electricity from us every year, generating revenue from out of province instead of out of pocket, it's all good right?