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The Geothermal Masterclass

Mark Nelson

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Speaker 1  0:00  

Ah, de trois Bienvenue au decouple Oracle de. Today we have the pleasure of being joined by Mark Nelson, for a very special decouple short on the very interesting news that Gentili to the loan Canada reactor, remaining in Quebec, which was to be refurbished may be refurbished Hydro Quebec is examining it for this breaking news. We've got none other than Mark Nelson, to provide some commentary context. I'm excited to deep dive this more I pay a lot of attention to nuclear in Ontario, but I am guilty of not knowing very much about nuclear history in Quebec. And you know, I'm a Canadian, you're an American. But you seem to have your nose and everybody's business mark. So what's up with it?

Mark Nelson  0:53  

All right. So first of all, there's been a general trend around the world of old construction projects and nuclear getting revived. And I think we're gonna see more of these around the world. More on that in future episodes. And we're also seeing plants that have recently been shut down, even very close to Canada, like Palisades and Michigan, suddenly, all the politicians are like, What, wait, wait, wait, nuclear is popular. Now. We didn't expect it to close what about our tax revenue, and suddenly, they're going to try to save it. I gotta tell you, Quebec was not on my radar for this shutdown. So Quebec has had one nuclear plant active, it's got a big can do and a little can do both decommissioned, the big can do that's about 670 megawatts of capacity enough for here a bit under a million people. Well, that got shut down in 2013. And to cut it short, the issue was, Quebec thought it didn't need the electricity, they have tons of dam that was something like 90 98% of their electricity coming from hydro, they they feel that they had hydropower for the Quebec grid. And that was enough. When you tell people about the grids in North America, it's kind of funny, you say, Well, you've got the Eastern interconnection, going from Florida to Ontario, you've got the Western interconnection, going from, from, you know, Colorado to California to Seattle to Vancouver. And then you've got Texas, and you've got Quebec, those are the four main grids in America, East, West, Texas, and Quebec. And in both Texas and Quebec cases, you've got almost like many nations that feel themselves cold, truly separated, legally separated as the goal of some people there. Well, in Quebec, they have tons of hydro, and they think they didn't need this silly, you know, Anglo Canadian power that's from the nuclear plants. So they shut it off. Then something interesting happened. They stopped expanding hydropower in Quebec. And they started doing business deals to sell hydropower all around the borders of Quebec, and then in Ontario, Ontario independently decided to maybe shut down some of its nuclear reactors. And other ways of getting energy like the Green Energy Act did not come in as expected and had to be shut off. So suddenly, you went from we have too much power to actually we don't quite have enough power. And it's not even just the balance of power over the course of the year. Quebec for many years has run an extremely narrow margin in the winter time, between expected peak demand and the amount of electricity they had supply. Supply of so instantaneous power issues, and maybe like one two days in a row issues during the coldest periods. So the future of sustainability is almost essentially one thing electrification with clean electricity. So also good for Quebec because they've got clean electricity. But when you add the load, and you reduce production and surrounding regions, like for example, Vermont, Vermont had one power plant of note, and they shut it off right after Gentilly, and Quebec was shut off in 2015. It was almost exactly the same size. And Vermont went from being way more than self sufficient electricity with no seasonality to dependent on imports all the time, including potentially from Quebec and from Canada, so everybody can import from everybody else. At the same time. It doesn't work like that. New York turned off a huge set of a huge bit of their power. Massachusetts turned off their only nuclear plant and have to rely on others. You've got all these things, all these states that had energy plans of rely on Quebec. Suddenly, Quebec's got these power deals where they're offering power to customers. They often retain the capability of choosing when that power goes. But you can only do that so much without expanding hydro. Before you run into deep trouble. They Then you had the anti nuclear politics which have clearly been getting weaker and weaker and weaker. And at the point that Justin Trudeau do sits in a meeting with Olaf shoots, and they that Justin sits there and says how excited that he was to get German factories powered by his nuclear fleet. The the writing is on the wall for the centrist anti nukes to remain in the center, they gotta become pro nukes. Now we get to something interesting about candies, the insides of candies are so darn modular, you've got all these little forgings that can be replaced with local supply chains, local supply chains in Canada that are highly experienced and delivering outstanding products that are rapidly being installed because it's the same equipment, as in the other candy plants that are being renovated all around, can do has the advantage, that it can be renovated, it has the disadvantage that it has to be almost completely renovated. These two things are kind of intention, but it means there's an act of supply chain doing midlife or early life renovations across Canada that can merely be put into place with a known schedule and unknown budget to restore the operation of that plant. As long as they haven't destroyed the containment and after rebuild that almost everything else they can fix using the existing supply chain on offer. So very exciting. Chris, Quebec is not going to be a parasite if they can, if they can get this on now, it would still represent just a small portion of their annual generation. So they generate a few 100 about 200 terawatt hours, give or take a bit. But Chris, even hydro is weather dependent energy. And if you want to have extra hydro available to sell at a premium to backup other people's energy system, you had better have your baseload needs taken care of. And that's part of what they're looking for bringing that nuclear plant back for it's all winter constant on energy. And I can't think of a more exciting out of the blue piece of news I've heard recently a nuclear.

Speaker 1  7:04  

Okay, so mark, everybody wants a piece of that clean Quebec hydro. You know, our anti nuclear folks in Ontario are urging us to shut down a nuclear fleet because we can do it all with wind, solar efficiency and those sweet imports from Quebec ignoring obviously, the seasonality you're mentioning. You know, we've talked about Quebec before in the context of having pursued more of a hard path generating a bulk load of clean electricity. With this, some would say overbilled of hydroelectricity. And in some ways that's reminiscent of France, where they also I think, heat with electricity in the winter. So these big kind of changes in seasonal demand. You know, one thing you were you were mentioning is, you know, Quebec is getting tapped out, they import actually electricity from us and Ontario, for those very cold days you're mentioning, and I guess they've, you know, they had an easier time the size of Belgium or for north north american listeners, the size of Florida,

Mark Nelson  7:59  

no amount of destroying land is too too much as long as you can avoid nuclear power.

Speaker 1  8:04  

Well, that's just the thing. You know, in our case for Canada report, we were looking at the land use of the James Bay hydroelectricity project, which is not all of Quebec hydro is just the largest series of dams they constructed. And the land use comparison to the whole Kandu fleets, the uranium mines and the supply chain, that's 20 square kilometers for can do, or, you know, to make that intelligible. That's the size of the Pearson International Airport. So it's just this was really great, original research that we did that I felt was pretty interesting. And you know, it's not easy to build big hydroelectric dams anymore and flood other people's land. So that may be what's underlying this move by Quebec to look at the restart of Gentilly. Thank God that the decommissioning was just put on hold without them doing going on German on those reactors and

Mark Nelson  8:55  

hey, look, Germany hasn't gone all German on the reactors are more talking the nearby shut downs in Indian Point were almost the absolute crucial need for those reactors was the reason why they had to destroy them as rapidly as possible to make sure that there's no risk of them coming back under the high demand scenario that

Speaker 1  9:15  

oh man I was there I saw that big gash in the containment in Indian Point a real tragedy mark, we're gonna do these keep them shorts. When we say decouple short, we mean short man. Thank you for joining us for this breaking news. Really exciting and hope it comes to something Thanks for providing some context.

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