The180

Nuclear power or wind power?

When it comes to power generation, we often think of fossil fuels like coal and natural gas, and renewable sources like wind, solar, and hydro. But the Canadian Nuclear Association (CNA) wants to remind you of its option: nuclear. In fact, it recently conducted a study to determine whether wind, nuclear, or natural gas is more environmentally friendly. The...
Nuclear power plant in Pickering, Ontario. (Darren Calabrese/CP)

When it comes to power generation, we often think of fossil fuels like coal and natural gas, and renewable sources like wind, solar, and hydro. But the Canadian Nuclear Association (CNA) wants to remind you of its option: nuclear. In fact, it recently conducted a study to determine whether wind, nuclear, or natural gas is more environmentally friendly. The study said nuclear, but Canada's wind proponents disagree.

When we talk about clean energy and clean tech, it's not only the renewable side of things. It is also nuclear. It is a clean technology.John Barrett, Canadian Nuclear Association

John Barrett is President and CEO of CNA. He says wind alone may be emissions free, but it is not reliable. To make it reliable, it needs to be backed up, and he says this often happens with natural gas.

Brandy Giannetta says that conclusion is based on a "fictitious scenario." She is the Ontario Regional Director for the Canadian Wind Energy Association, and while she admits that right now wind alone cannot provide reliable power, she says there are ways to back it up that don't involve fossil fuels. Gianetta also says that new nuclear is not cost effective-- it's cheaper to build wind power than it is nuclear.

In Canada today, wind is cheaper than new nuclear. We've got significant upside environmental performance and economic benefits that we can point to.Brandy Giannetta, Canadian Wind Energy Association

Both Barrett and Giannetta addressed safety issues while speaking to The 180's host Jim Brown. "In 60 years of nuclear power for electricity generation," says Barrett, "there has been no fatality. And there have been no major accidents."

As for concerns over the effect of wind turbines on human health, Giannetta says there is no scientific evidence. "The fact is, folks have been living and working around wind turbine and electricity generation from wind turbines for over 30 years across the world, and we've seen no detrimental impacts."

Listen to John Barrett and Brandy Giannetta make their cases, then tell us what you think. Send an email to the180@cbc.ca.

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