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May 09, 2007



Let me get this straight. They want to use cheap, clean and safe nuclear power to produce cancer causing, earth warming, and land sterilizing poisonous petroleum fuel more profitably.

WOW, somebody’s getting RICH!!!

Will the Canadian tax payers be forced to subsidize the nuclear plants with this "savings" going to the oil companies? Yet another Big Oil subsidy? 

Why don’t they just spend the $ BILLIONS on better and cheaper batteries? OH, I know... lobbing dollars to crooked politicians. That's Democratic-Socialist Mobocracy vote buying at its best! Good Job, Canada!


They are also looking at Geothermal.

Brian Wang

indicates strong and growing nuclear support

Enter Energy Alberta Corp., a Calgary company that formed a partnership with AECL last fall with the audacious aim of solving the oil-sands' emissions problem with nuclear power. Wayne Henuset, one of two veteran oil-patch executives behind the concept, said this week the company plans to file a site application with the federal Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission within 90 days for an Alberta-based generating station - he won't say exactly where - powered by two AECL reactors.

Henuset's optimum timeline: secure regulatory approval within four years, start construction in 2011, throw the switch to begin using nuclear power to separate sand from up to 500,000 barrels of oil a day in 2016. "We've got the federal government onside, the provincial government onside, and two local communities that want us," he says. Lunn has predicted it's only a matter of time before nuclear reactors begin playing "a very significant role in the oil sands."

Even the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report suggests solutions to mitigate climate change should include more use of nuclear power. Admittedly some of the IPCC statements are somewhat weak on this. But they do say that increasing nuclear usage a few percentage points is reasonable


Wind power ought to be used. I have advocated this for a few years. Wind electric powered plasma drilling would replace the mining operation, stop the huge water contamination problem, and allow refining to use the heat energy from the plasma processing.

Montana's coal to liquid fuel operation ought to use wind power too. I have written to the governor about this, no response so far. Industrial operations are being directed by technically illiterate boardroom lawyers and accountants. Informed by managers living in a 1950s mindset.

Robert McLeod

While Atomic Energy Canada may wish it, it doesn't make it so. The conservative Premier's of this province have made it quite clear that they're not fond of nuclear power, at all.


It will take over a decade to get the nuke plant running anyway. Wind could start powering these operations in a year or so.

The wind resouces in this area of Canada and Montana are some of the best in the world and with a 500 kVDC transmission system to feed power to the operations, extra power could be exported to the grid.

The wind power operation could turn out more profit in the end than the tar sands or coal will.

With serial plugin hybrid vehicles like the GM volt upcoming, the tar sands could even become uneconomic again as oil prices drop with lowered demand. The companies investing in the tar sands and coal to liquid would then be protected by their diversification into the wind power industry.


IPCC ought to produce a solutions report next Brian.

Given a scientific approach, nuclear's many problems would put it back in an experimental stage of development. The only place it should be given the horrible record of nuclear industry/government regulator performance on over sight,waste disposal, proliferation, leaks, safety, and cost over runs.

I think large scale wind/wave power, distributed renewable solar, wind, and biogas generation and storage, and conservation in the form of plugin serial hybrid vehicles and geothermal heating/cooling would win the recomendation of an IGCC panel dedicated to solutions.


I'm from Alberta and I guess the upside of nuclear power is it will create less pollution to a degree. This conservative government makes huge money from the Tar Sands and you can bet that they are not interested in anything that would threaten its existence. They have been in power for so long that it isn't tax payers money anymore, it's theirs.

The mess that has been created in Fort McMurray is a disgrace. There was an article in Explore Magazine (Canadian outdoor mag)that describes the incredible environmental destruction that is taking place up there. If you didn't know better, you would have thought it was some place in Russia. They have pools the size of lakes that are so full of bi-product chemicals that you won't believe it until you see it. And those chemicals are leaching through the earth into the Athabasca river.

I'm not sure anything will solve this disaster now. It is a complete runaway.

Brian Wang

A simple search shows that those who are working on energy in Alberta are not blind to wind. Alberta has the most wind power in Canada. The IPCC report is already discussing mitigating solutions. If one is in favor of wind in area X, then one should actually look at what is being done in area X with wind. If one is saying that the IPCC ought to do Y, then read the details of what the IPCC has already done.

Alberta's existing energy mix 2005

Frost said Alberta's wind generating capacity will rise to about 545 megawatts by the end of 2007. It could hit the 900 megawatt cap as early as 2008.

While wind power is highly desirable and is increasingly competitive with more traditional coal-fired and gas-fired generation, its variability -- sometimes the wind blows, sometimes it doesn't -- has sent up caution flags for the AESO and overseers in other jurisdictions.

The Calgary-based operator of Alberta's electric system has capped wind power at 10 per cent of the province's generating capacity, however in other jurisdictions where wind patterns and timing are better understood, wind generation has risen to as much as 25 per cent of jurisdictions' generating capacity.

The study of Alberta's wind resource is seen as a key step in allowing the province's wind generation industry -- already Canada's largest -- to expand beyond a 900 megawatt limit the Alberta Electric System Operator imposed in May 2006.

Alberta has billions of dollars in potential for wind power -- widely seen as environmentally friendly and indefinitely renewable, with no fuel cost -- but the industry here has been stymied by limitations around both transmission and the impact on province-wide reliability.

barry hanson

"It will take over a decade to get the nuke plant running anyway. Wind could start powering these operations in a year or so". drx

A 2200 MW nuke plant will produce 16.4 B kWh/year and be up and running in nine years...maybe. 1000 each 5 MW wind generators will produce 16.4 B kWh at 37% capacity factor...the same as the nuke.

The value of the wind electricity in the eight intervening years, while they are screwing around building the nuke plant, at $.05 is $6.56 billion. that's about what it would cost to build the wind generators at $1300/KW (a little under the average for new wind last year).

I think the amazngdrx has a good point here.


You really think they're going to get 1000-2000 turbines up in less time than it takes to build a nuke? In any case, they can build several at once and a nuclear plant is much more valuable than wind for the tar sands operations because they need process heat... A 1 GW plant typically pumps out about 3 GW thermal.

Wind has a place, but driving the tar sands processing isn't it. It'll help with the electrical needs of developing fort mac tho.

George Bruce

If you took out the Big Oil conspiracy theories, the pixie dust wishful thinking and the bald assertions of falsehoods, many of the above posts would lack content.


For Canada I'd go with geothermal.

They can use their snow melt as T-low cooling water.



The idea that nuclear will power the oil sands development is near fiction created and heavily marketed by the nuclear industry. Yes, some oil sands companies are considering it along with a host of other options, but I'm also hearing that behind the scenes the long-term money is on high- and medium-temperature geothermal systems that can be built on site as needed and in much quicker time than a nuclear plant. Energy Alberta Corp. is a partner with Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., so it obviously is in the business of convincing people to accept nuclear. Just because it's applying to the regulator for permission doesn't mean anything, as you need a community that wants it. I have yet to hear of any community asking for it, or for that matter an oil sands developer.


Heh, looky here

Three months ago, the Toronto Star ran a lengthy story about an oil-industry consortium that is quietly exploring the use of geothermal heat as an alternative to using natural gas in the oil sands.

It would be, at best, eight years before a nuclear plant is built in Alberta. Similarly, carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology is years away and would require billions of dollars in research and development before meaningful commercial deployment.

How, in good conscience, can our political leaders be talking about nuclear or CCS without giving equal consideration to a less complex, and possibly more affordable, "clean" option like geothermal?


Thats what I'm talkin about :P

How, in good conscience, can our political leaders be talking about nuclear or CCS without giving equal consideration to a less complex, and possibly more affordable, "clean" option like geothermal?
Great if you can make it work.

I'm bettin they cant. Geothermal has a rich history of failing to deliver any significant power. Iceland runs on it, but they have a population about half the size of Seattle.

Paul Dietz

They can use their snow melt as T-low cooling water.

But the whole idea here is to use higher temperature waste heat to make steam to mobilize the tar.


Nice lecture Brian, hehey.

That statement on 10% wind and variability is ludicrous. Computer studies of only a few wind farms have dispelled that tired talking point against wind. Variability..schmariability.

It shows the sorry state of wind power knowledge in the region if that is their take on wind development.

And wind has not been discussed for tar sands processing yet, except by me.

The IPCC has mitigation recomendations? Good! but I suspect there is very little detail and no choices made amongst the different technologies.

Nope, that won't do, a whole new assesment needs to be done for solutions. By real scientists who examine all the data. Not shills for ethanol, nukes, or clean coal.


There is a much better way to extract oil from tar sands. Microwave plasma drilling.

It uses no water. The tar sands mining operation uses steam to separate the oil. Water is rapidly becoming more important than oil. It makes no sense to use water to get oil.

The waste heat from the plasma drilling is transported up the pipe in the liquified oil, it can then be recycled with wind powered heat pumps to refine the oil.

This is a much more efficient, much less costly, and much lower gHG emitting process. and it ghets huge financial impetus behind large scale wind power, and that ias sorely needed. Insteasd of 5 mw machines, 50 mw machines are needed.

The big money going into the tar sands could fund that wind development.

Brian Wang

Energy Alberta hopes to build the nuclear power plant in either Whitecourt or Peace River in northwestern Alberta. A decision on the location is expected by Sept. 15.

Even the mayor of Whitecourt isn‘t sure how well the proposed project will fly even though it would create 800 jobs locally.

“It‘s just way too early. It‘s only been on the street for four days,‘‘ said Whitecourt Mayor Trevor Thain.

“I‘ve had a couple of e-mails that are against it and tons of conversations with people who say this is a good thing for Whitecourt. I know there is going to be some negativity to it, I just don‘t know how much.‘


The biggest issue with wind is it's intermitency. It would be difficult to use that as a primary power source for the oil sand. Plus the amount of energy used you would have to cover 1/2 of northern alberta. The alberta grid is not set up well for wind because of it's intermitancy. There are too many coal plants witch have slow ramp times and can't match demand. The best places for wind from the grid perspective is quebec and manitoba (due to the hydro, easily ramped)

The Nuclear will not fly for the oil sands. There are no "oil companies" that are interested in it at this point. It is all hype from outsiders. There are better places to put a nuc plant. Perhaps offsetting some of the coal use. YOu get much more "bang for your greenhouse buck" offseting coal use vs. natural gas use. I believe goal emittes about 4 time for c02 than methane.

Brian Wang

If the plan is for the oilsands to make up for any potential decline in other oil sources and ramp up to say 8 million bpd and to do that without burning natural gas. Then to replace the 6 billion cubic feet/day of natural gas would take forty 1.1 GW nuclear reactors to power the SAGD process at current SAGD process efficiency.

This would be cost justified in any kind of peak oil scenario.

I have more quotes from the reports on the plans with the numbers for the reactor proposals and quotes from Wayne Henuset

Brian Wang

Canada is estimated to have technical potential for more than 40 GW of wind power, 10 GW of small hydro, 70 GW of solar power, 3 GW of tidal power and 10 to 16 GW of wave energy. Source: Canadian Energy Research Institute, 2005

Canada's production target of four gigawatts of wind energy by 2010 would provide enough electricity for more than 250,000 Canadian homes.
Source: Natural Resources Canada, 2005


To ramp up oilsands to seriously fight off any peak oil scenario would more than the 2005 calculation of all of the technical available potential wind power for Canada.

Extracting 4 million bpd needs 320 billion kWh which is 3 trillion BTU. Replacing the current foreign oil imports of the USA 13 million bpd would take about 1040 billion kWh or 9.75 trillion BTU.
82 billion kWh generated from wind power globally in 2004.


Or so-called "peak oil" could be headed off by switching to serial plugin hybrid vehicles that use 10% of present vehicles. That would give a few decades of extended oil supply.

Time enough to develop much better batteries, with energy density approaching that of liquid fuel and quick charge, along with quick charge infrastructure. And distributed renewable energy generation and storage.

Meanwhile experimentation with better, cleaner methods to extract tar sands oil could go forward. This whole scenario of using tar sands to extend gas guzzling as usual a few more years fed by nuclear heated water, is an enviromental disaster in the making. That water is going to be more valuable than the oil as GHG drought problems get worse.

Who is going to pay for the cleanup of the mess of tar sand tailings mixed with nuclear waste left behind? Taxpayers? Another huge boondoggle for contractors to feed on.

BTW, wind variability problems are a myth created by those opposed to wind power and pushing nukes and clean coal.

Kit p

The biggest problem that the wind industry has is that it can build them fast enough to satisfy demand.

I would like to clear up the idea that the nuclear industry is anti-wind. The nuclear industry is not competing with the wind and vice versa. There is enough pent up energy demand to keep everyone busy. All energy producers have a common enemy, the NIMBY crowd. In fact two of the largest suppliers of nuclear equipment are leaders in renewable energy too. Furthermore, US leadership in wind and solar belongs to an electric company better know for producing electricity with nuke power plants.

So whenever there is a story about nuclear, we get something like this, “Wind power ought to be used. I have advocated this for a few years.”

I am an advocate of building the right power plant in the right place. Nuclear power plants should not be built on top of coal mines. Nuclear power should not be built for peaking power in the southwest.

Here is the problem with the NIMBY crowd. While the most practical alternative would be build a nuke near a US city, the people in cities love LNG. Those cunning devils in Alberta have figured out they can make more money generating electricity with nuclear power and piping natural gas to the US.


Nice Post...! Thanks.


Well put. Admittedly, I'm "pro-nuke", being a nuclear engineer. That's not "pro-bomb", but rather "pro-nuclear power". A nuclear detonation solution doesn't seem realistic for this situation, despite the Soviet experience.

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