Despite of all what’s happened in Japan lately, despite of all the activists and all of the dangers associated with nuclear fission power plants, there are places on Earth where people want to build their own local nuclear power plant. Scaled down, 10 MW versions are within the building plans of Nunavut, Canada.
The local authorities considered this path because of the high costs they can deliver electricity to the population. While in the rest of Canada the average per kilowatt is 8.5 cents, they produce electricity for 50 cents to $1 a kilowatt-hour. That’s an awfully expensive tax for the 33,000 inhabitants of Nunavut.
The electricity they generate comes no less than from diesel right now, whose transportation costs are skyrocketing with oil prices (add the cost of the fuel itself).
Qulliq Energy, the company that provides electricity to the area, has also analyzed a 10 MW hydroelectric power plant as a possible solution to the problem, but the prices were huge: from $200 to $500 million, with a lifespan of 40 years, while the same power output from a micro nuclear plant that lasts the same costs only $15 millions.
Ok, but what if an accident occurs during an earthquake or any other imaginable catastrophe?
The fact is that because the population is so sparse in the area, there won’t be much of a risk. Actually, QEC board members plan the possibility of building 25 of these micro nuclear reactors at about the same price they’d pay for a hydroelectric plant. And, at the same time, because of the small sizes involved, there won’t be much energy stored in those plants after all and they’re easier to control, so disasters the size of that from Fukushima-Daiichi are out of the question. The population is partly spread over an archipelago the size of Europe – that’s another reason.
Moreover, the plants would benefit from the latest technology and safety measures and would have no carbon emissions… which leads me to the following question: where will they store the spent nuclear fuel? Nevertheless, they probably thought of that, too. I’m curious what they came up with.