The development of new nuclear power plants is among policy suggestions outlined in a recent report on the Canadian energy sector by the International Energy Agency.

“Nuclear is an essential component of Canada’s energy mix, and this is a key asset for security of supply, competition and climate change issues,” said IEA executive director Claude Mandil. While Canada’s more recent nuclear facilities are performing quite well, older plants are experiencing significant refurbishment problems, the IEA noted.

Canada is considering retrofitting many older facilities, including the re-start of unit 4 at the Pickering A nuclear plant in Ontario. However, the planned re-start is years late and millions of dollars over budget. The province is also moving slowly on other nuclear retrofits even while facing supply contraints as it tries to shut down heavily polluting coal-fired plants. Mandil said Ottawa needs to evaluate the costs and benefits of nuclear power plants

Other measures proposed include increasing efficiency standards, lifting the 32-year-old federal ban on gas and oil exploration on the country’s West Coast, and recreating three regional electricity markets. According to the report, the country also needs better co-operation between provincial and federal governments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and strengthen electricity markets.