Nuclear power will continue to be an important component of our electricity supply for the foreseeable future. But whether this will be on a diminishing or increasing scale will depend on the capacity of the industry to resolve public concerns over environment, health and safety risks and to compete successfully with alternative sources.
Our experience over the past quarter century has demonstrated that solutions are available, or can be found, when there is a clear political will for concerted action through a combination of policies, regulations and incentives. Even the most local of solutions must be applied in a global context.
We either can position ourselves on the leading edge of this new wave of change, and benefit from it, or be engulfed in its backwash. Ontario Hydro has determined that its responsibility as stewards of the immense investment Ontarians have in the existing electric power industry has a responsibility to lead.
Migration which has historically helped relieve the pressures of poverty, suffering and persecution, is no longer a practical alternative for most. Although the pressures for migration will continue to mount, the borders of the world are closing for all but the privileged few.
There is a major shift of economic power away from governments, of which the widespread movement towards privatization is but one manifestation. As we approach the limits of government, a wide variety of new actors are emerging within civil society who are becoming primary agents of change.
Asia will have to build new facilities to meet the rising energy demand that will accompany their growing economies. But they must also recognize that improving the efficiency of existing plants and existing uses, is usually the fastest, often the cheapest, and certainly always the most environmentally advantageous way to increase energy supply.