Student Perspective by Yeasmin Ibrahim

I am Yeasmin, I will be graduating from the NBCC Business Administration: Marketing Diploma program in June. I consider myself a creator at heart with many mediums including food, artwork, and ideas. I was pleased to be selected for the Marketing Outreach Coordinator position at Atlantica Centre for Energy for my final work practicum this spring.  

After working for a few days at the Atlantica Centre for Energy, I realized how much I needed to clarify about energy. First, most people like me, with no energy background or knowledge, think that most of our energy needs are met solely by burning coal, and oil, releasing a high amount of carbon and polluting the atmosphere. In fact, I thought most of the world relies on non-renewal sources, and everyone just talks about green energy. 

But little did I know that Canada is walking the talk and progressing towards lowering its carbon emissions. The Canadian federal government has also made a law to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. This law is at the federal level, but according to the Atlantic Centre for Energy, things must be done on a provincial and regional levels as well. The Atlantic region has so much untapped potential moving towards this one federal goal that people need to learn about it. 

I used to think we must eliminate our dependence on non-renewal energy sources like fossil fuels. But I now believe that if these fossil fuels are gone, renewable energy sources like solar or wind will have difficulty sustaining electricity continuously alone because these sources are variable. Electricity generation for utilities must combine different energy types to keep the electricity running throughout the day every day of the year. One energy source, in particular, caught my attention as I was exposed to various aspects of energy during my work practicum.  

Before joining Atlantica Centre for Energy, I did not know the terms ‘small modular reactor’ or ‘SMR’ or ‘aSMR’. I kept hearing about it so much in my first couple of weeks that I had to look it up and read about it. For those of you who are a layperson like me, yet passionate about the environment, an SMR is a small version of a traditional nuclear reactor that can be used to generate clean electricity. There are no emissions when you produce energy with nuclear. The size of the reactor is small, hence the name small modular reactor. New Brunswick already generates up to 40 per cent of its electricity through nuclear energy, and it has the potential to use more. 

Before this practicum, for sure, I thought nuclear energy was evil since it is responsible for several high-profile nuclear failures.  However, after I researched this topic further, I understand the waste produced is small and it is very safe.  

I learned that nuclear energy is one of the cleanest forms of energy with the lowest carbon emission rates. I also learned that nuclear waste could be recycled for medical use or safely stored in sealed containers. Even the most famous environmentalist (according to me), Greta Thunberg, has taken a pro-nuclear stance. 

I have learned that no energy form is perfect. Every energy source has drawbacks, including sun, water, wind, fossil fuels, or nuclear. But we must choose to lessen these drawbacks. The main efforts from local companies, First Nations, and all business forms must make voluntary efforts to reduce reliance on hydrocarbons and consider a mix of sources to generate clean, safe, and sustainable electricity. Regional authorities should expand facilities for renewable energy with our community’s support; This will ensure a better place for our children and grandchildren by reducing carbon emissions to next to zero.