This is what nuclear power could look like on the Prairies
The Prairies Climate Change Project is a joint initiative between CBC Edmonton and CBC Saskatchewan that focuses on weather and our changing climate. Meteorologist Christy Climenhaga brings her expert voice to the conversation to help explain weather phenomena and climate change and how they impact everyday life.
There are a lot of options in energy for Canada — hydro, wind, solar, biomass, natural gas, geothermal … the list goes on.
As we work to decarbonize our electricity sources, there is growing interest in nuclear power.
Nuclear power has a long history in Canada, with the first plant, the Nuclear Power Demonstration Reactor in Rolphton, Ont., going online in the early 1960s.
Today, larger nuclear generating stations in Ontario and New Brunswick supply about 15 per cent of Canada’s electricity.
But what about the Prairies? There is no nuclear power in Alberta and Saskatchewan as of today. Alberta currently produces nearly 90 per cent of its electricity from natural gas and coal; in Saskatchewan, fossil fuels provide about 80 per cent of electricity.
But as the country looks to phase out fossil fuel use, what could the future look like?
Nuclear in Canada
While New Brunswick is home to one nuclear generating station, most of Canada’s nuclear power lies in Ontario, which has three generating stations — Pickering, Darlington and Bruce.
Canada’s nuclear power plants use nuclear fission. Atoms from a uranium fuel are split apart, releasing energy in the form of heat and radiation. The heat is used to create steam from water. The steam then spins a turbine, creating electricity.
Spent fuel — radioactive waste — must be stored securely for decades or even centuries.
While a new large nuclear plant has not been built in Canada since the Darlington plant came online in the early ’90s, there is development on the way for small modular nuclear reactors, or SMRs.
SMRs come with some changes from the larger plants, said Gary Rose, vice-president of new nuclear growth at Ontario Power Generation, which operates the Pickering and Darlington facilities.
“They’re smaller, and because they’re smaller they can be more modular and built in factories and have a much more predictable cost and schedule to deploy,” Rose said.
Ontario Power Generation is leading the country in SMR development. A small reactor under construction at Darlington is expected to be operating by 2029.
The SMR will provide 300 megawatts of electricity, which could be enough to power around 300,000 homes. The plant would run for 60 to 80 years.
“I would say we are leading the world in deploying this technology, and certainly many other countries and provinces are following us,” Rose said.
Nuclear on the Prairies
Alberta and Saskatchewan are no stranger to nuclear talks. Both provinces have signed memorandums of understanding with New Brunswick and Ontario — the intention is to share knowledge in the push toward nuclear power.
“Alberta is a leader in technology and innovation, and Small Modular Reactors have the potential to help support our responsible energy production while reducing emissions,” said Alberta’s Ministry of Energy in a statement.
In April, Alberta signed a memorandum of understanding with the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute to explore the viability of deploying SMR technology in the province.
Saskatchewan is a step ahead of Alberta, with plans for the same type of SMR that is being deployed in Ontario.
“We’ll be in a position to make a decision on potentially our first SMR investment in 2029,” said Kent Campbell, president and CEO of the Crown Investments Corporation of Saskatchewan.
Campbell said two potential sites have been identified in the Elbow and Estevan regions of the province, with a final selection expected in late 2023 or early 2024.
“If you look at our power production system right now, we’re still fairly heavily reliant on fossil fuels,” he said. “As we move to a scenario of net-zero electricity production, we’re going to need to look to other sources.”
Along with advancements in solar and wind power, nuclear power is a very good option, Campbell said.
“We are very, I think, optimistic that it will be part of our power generation future as we move forward into the 2030s and beyond.”
Safety and waste
Any talk about developing nuclear power sparks questions about safety and environmental impacts, and accidents like those at Three Mile Island, Chornobyl and Fukushima.
So what about the risks in Canada?
Nuclear safety in Canada is monitored and regulated by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.
“Canada has been in the nuclear power business since the 1960s, one of the first countries in the world to produce nuclear power, and we do have an exemplary safety record,” CNSC president Rumina Velshi told CBC in an interview.
Velshi said that for existing plants, challenges lie with ensuring facilities continue to meet new standards and safety codes. The CNSC works with facility operators to ensure they are following international standards.
“We do an assessment of each nuclear facility, not only on a regular basis, but then each year we produce a report card on how well those facilities are doing,” Velshi said.
“When serious accidents happen, like when the Fukushima accident happened in 2011, for instance, it’s our job to understand what are the learnings for us.”
And when it comes to new builds, Velshi said the technology itself has improved safety.
She said SMRs incorporate passive safety systems, which means that if things go wrong, the reactor shuts down.
Velshi said one benefit of nuclear power is the small, containable amounts of spent fuel.
“We know exactly how much waste there is and where it is. There are very, very stringent requirements around inventory and we actually have to report.”
Management of radioactive waste is planned for nuclear builds from the onset. Velshi said that as part of the licensing procedure, the plant’s operators are required to prove that they have a plan and the funds for the safe disposal of waste.
“They have to set aside a certain amount of funds which we review every five years … so that there isn’t this abandoned waste with no one responsible because that funding is there.”
Though Canada doesn’t have a permanent waste solution, Velshi said work is being done to change that through a deep geological repository.
“Think about something underground, way down, a couple of kilometres down, and you store the waste there — and that’s the path that Canada is on,” she said.
Velshi said the CNSC is hoping a site with a willing host community will be selected by the end of 2024, so that the licensing process can start for building a deep geological repository.
Viability with climate change
Much of the drive for nuclear comes from the need for reliable, zero- or low-emission energy sources.
Gary Rose, with Ontario Power Generation, said nuclear power comes with that level of stability.
“In order to advance your renewables, wind, solar, etc., you need baseload energy [for] when you don’t have sun or don’t have wind,” he said.
“If it’s not nuclear or hydro, it’s [natural] gas, generally, and you don’t achieve the carbon reduction that we’re looking for.”
“I’m beginning to see [nuclear] as a kind of a battery for solar,” said Esam Hussein, a former dean of engineering and applied science at the University of Regina.
“If you have nuclear, you can afford to rely on those intermittent sources of power.”
Hussein acknowledges that nuclear power is a more expensive option, with higher capital costs, and that it does come with risks.
“There is a price for everything we do … solar has its own challenges and advantages, disadvantages. Wind, hydro — we all know the problems,” he said.
“Take the risk of climate change that can wipe out humanity, or take a calculated, very well-known risk that I believe we can handle.”
Not all convinced
The conversation around nuclear power is complicated, and while many believe it is the answer for a net-zero emission future, others are not convinced.
“Nuclear is not only not the answer, I think nuclear is actually a negative for climate mitigation,” said M.V. Ramana, a professor in the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs at the University of British Columbia.
“Nuclear energy is a very expensive way to generate electricity,” he said, noting that� nuclear costs have increased over time, as safety regulations and licensing become more expensive.
New nuclear builds around the world have been plagued by delays and missed budgets, Ramana said.
According to Ramana, Russia began building two SMRs in 2007 that were meant to be completed in three years. Delays meant they didn’t get connected to the grid until 2020.
And in terms of cost, Ramana said that while SMRs are more affordable on paper than large plants, they lose out on economies of scale.
“When you build a plant that is generating, let’s say, five times as much electricity, the utility will get five times as much revenue out of it, but its costs will not be five times as much.
“When you go small you lose out on economies of scale and so the per unit cost will actually go up for a smaller reactor.”
While Ramana discounts nuclear power as a solution to the effects of climate change, he does argue for carbon emissions to be reduced as quickly as possible and at the lowest possible cost.
“[Nuclear is] a very expensive source of power, it takes a long time to build. So any dollar that you’re spending on nuclear power is a dollar that’s not being spent on something else.”
He said expansion of renewable energy sources, along with further research into storage solutions, is the best path forward.
“We don’t know anything about what kind of storage technologies will be available [in the future] and how much they will cost,” he said.
“How do we deal with climate change? There is no easy answer right there. And the short answer is we have to change everything we are doing.”
Our planet is changing. So is our journalism. This story is part of a CBC News initiative entitled “Our Changing Planet” to show and explain the effects of climate change. Keep up with the latest news on our Climate and Environment page.
Analysts Reiterate Calls For $100 Oil As Saudi Arabia Cuts Production – OilPrice.com
Brent prices could hit $100 by the end of this year as the new 1 million bpd production cut Saudi Arabia announced on Sunday would further tighten the oil market, analysts said after the OPEC+ meeting this weekend.
The OPEC+ producers decided to keep the current cuts until the end of 2024, while OPEC’s top producer and the world’s largest crude oil exporter, Saudi Arabia, said it would voluntarily reduce its production by 1 million bpd in July, to around 9 million bpd. The Saudi cut could be extended beyond July, Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz said on Sunday, describing the announced reduction as a “Saudi lollipop.”
“With Saudi Arabia protecting oil prices from sliding too low by cutting production, we think oil markets are now more prone to a shortfall later this year,” Commonwealth Bank of Australia analyst Vivek Dhar said in a note carried by Reuters.
Even if China’s oil demand is not as strong in the second half of this year as expected, Brent Crude futures are set to rise to $85 per barrel by the fourth quarter of 2023, Dhar added.
Early on Monday in Europe, Brent Crude traded at $77 per barrel, up by 1% on the day.
ANZ analysts Daniel Hynes and Soni Kumari reiterated their $100 per barrel Brent target for the end of the year, saying that “Investors are likely to add bullish bets, comfortable that Saudi Arabia and OPEC will provide a backstop should the market hit any hurdles.”
“The oil market now looks like it will be even tighter in the second half of the year,” ANZ noted.
Goldman Sachs, which sees Brent at $95 per barrel in December, described OPEC+’s meeting as “moderately bullish” to its forecast and offsetting some bearish downside risks such as higher supply from sanctioned Russia, Iran, and Venezuela and weaker-than-thought Chinese demand.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.
U.S. stock melt-up drives S&P 500 to brink of bull run – BNN Bloomberg
The relentless rally in big tech, options positioning and bets on a Federal Reserve pause following a mixed jobs report put stocks on the verge of a bull market.
An advance of roughly 1.5 per cent for the S&P 500 extended the benchmark’s surge from its October low to nearly 20 per cent. A gauge of megacaps like Tesla Inc. and Apple Inc. saw its sixth straight week of gains — the longest winning run in since July 2021. Broadcom Inc. climbed after predicting that sales tied to artificial intelligence will double this year.
As stocks rose, Wall Street’s “fear gauge” plummeted to pre-pandemic levels. The Cboe Volatility Index, or VIX, dropped below 15 from an average of 23 in the past year. The risk-taking mode also drove the Russell 2000 index of small caps — the home of several regional banks — up about 3.5 per cent
“The impressive run for equities continues to drive retail investors into the market,” said Mark Hackett, chief of investment research at Nationwide. “Investors have spent much of the past three years obsessed by the Fed, inflation, and payrolls, though volatility around those reports has settled, reflecting a less emotional market. This is bullish, as less reactivity is a sign of a healthy market.”
To Andrew Brenner at NatAlliance Securities, the melt-up in equities has a lot to do with one thing: positioning.
“Options traders were off sides,” Brenner said. “We think they get back onsides next week, and the rally will run out of steam.”
Indeed, the stock advance doesn’t mean the market isn’t facing headwinds, according to Quincy Krosby, chief global strategist at LPL Financial.
Among the risks, she cites the potential ramifications of the deluge of Treasury notes — approximately US$1 trillion — to be auctioned as the US department replenishes its general account following a debt-limit deal. that could ignite a significant sapping of liquidity from financial markets, she noted.
“That the Fed has telegraphed that June 14 is off the table for a rate hike no doubt reflects its concerns regarding the potential for increased market volatility stemming from dissipating liquidity,” Krosby said. “Still, today’s across-the-board rally confirms that the market doesn’t see an impending recession despite the incessant calls for one.”
Signs of labor-market slackening in May despite a pickup in hiring could strengthen the argument from Fed Chair Jerome Powell and other officials that they should take more time to assess incoming data and the evolving outlook before raising rates again.
Wall Street’s reaction to the latest jobs report showed bets that another Fed hike is likely in the bag — but that wouldn’t necessarily happen in June.
Two-year yields, which are more sensitive to imminent central bank moves, jumped 16 basis points to 4.5 per cent.
Some 25 basis points of tightening were fully priced in across the next two meetings for part of the trading session Friday. Around 9 basis points was priced in for June, indicating a less than one-in-two chance of any hike being at this month’s meeting.
“The key question now is: can they wait until July or does this monster payrolls number trigger another burst of urgency?” said Seema Shah, chief global strategist at Principal Asset Management. “Perhaps the report details, with the unemployment rate rising and average hourly earnings growth slowing, tilts the decision to July.”
The Fed should be open to raising interest rates by a half percentage point in July if it opts to hold off from tightening this month, former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers said.
“We are again in a situation where the risks of overheating the economy are the primary risks that the Fed needs to be mindful of,” the Harvard University professor said in an interview with Bloomberg Television’s David Westin on Friday.
Some of the main moves in markets:
- The S&P 500 rose 1.4 per cent as of 4 p.m. New York time
- The Nasdaq 100 rose 0.7 per cent
- The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 2.1 per cent
- The MSCI World index rose 1.5 per cent
- The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index rose 0.2 per cent
- The euro fell 0.5 per cent to US$1.0708
- The British pound fell 0.6 per cent to US$1.2450
- The Japanese yen fell 0.8 per cent to 139.97 per dollar
- Bitcoin rose 1.4 per cent to US$27,251.37
- Ether rose 2.1 per cent to US$1,908.83
- The yield on 10-year Treasuries advanced 10 basis points to 3.69 per cent
- Germany’s 10-year yield advanced six basis points to 2.31 per cent
- Britain’s 10-year yield advanced four basis points to 4.16 per cent
- West Texas Intermediate crude rose 2.7 per cent to US$71.98 a barrel
- Gold futures fell 1.5 per cent to US$1,965.20 an ounce
Lululemon shares surge as consumers snap up pricier athletic wear
By Savyata Mishra
(Reuters) – Shares of Lululemon Athletica Inc soared 15% in early trade on Friday, after the premium apparel retailer defied investor worries with a full-year outlook lift amid little pullback from consumers and a sharp rebound in China sales.
The rosy outlook comes in contrast to the general trend of U.S. retailers ranging from Macy’s to Dollar General warning of weak discretionary spending by American consumers.
At least 11 brokerages raised price targets on the company, with Piper Sandler hiking by the highest margin to $445, above the median of $424.
“We think (Lululemon) is one of the select brands continuing to drive outsized demand in this more challenging macro environment with innovation and newness,” said Abbie Zvejnieks, analyst at Piper Sandler.
Lululemon’s first-quarter results also beat estimates as the company saw traffic across both its stores and online go up about 30%.
“Lululemon’s stores continue to be a key catalyst for customer retention and acquisition,” analysts at TD Cowen wrote in a note.
The company also reported a 79% rise in sales in China, bolstered by the rollback of COVID restrictions. Lululemon’s exposure to China could be “a solid source of sales and margin upside for the rest of the year,” analysts at Barclays wrote in a note.
A loyal customer base has also given the company a leg up, helping it sell more of its popular products, such as the Align high-rise yoga pants which retails between $98 and $118, at full price, even amid an uncertain economy.
“Lululemon is just very popular right now and seems to be immune from the slowing trend,” David Swartz, an analyst at Morningstar Research said.
The company’s strong results also lifted shares of other athletic wear makers including Nike Inc and Athleta owner Gap Inc by 4% and 3%, respectively. Shares of European sportswear companies Adidas and Puma were also up.
(Reporting by Savyata Mishra and Aishwarya Venugopal in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri)
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