Ontario deepens commitment to nuclear energy
Ontario has shown its further commitment to carbon-free, nuclear energy with the approval of a 30-year life extension program for the four reactors at the Darlington site announced in early January.
Ontario has shown its further commitment to carbon-free, nuclear energy with the approval of a 30-year life extension program for the four reactors at the Darlington site announced in early January. Ontario’s Minister of Energy was quoted as saying:
“Proceeding with the refurbishment at Darlington will ensure that nuclear continues to be Ontario’s single largest source of power.”
Hot on the heels of the Darlington news was the green light for an application to be made for the four reactors at the Pickering site to continue operating beyond the originally planned closure date of 2018: the application will be for two of the reactors to continue producing electricity until 2022 and for the other two to continue until 2024.
These decisions come on the back of the announcement in December 2015 that the eight reactors at the Bruce plant will be refurbished for a life extension of 30 years.
The planned refurbishments at Darlington and Bruce represent the equivalent of 12 new reactors coming on-stream in terms of uranium fuel requirement.
These initiatives will ensure that Ontario continues to get about 60% of its electricity from nuclear.
Darlington Nuclear Power Plant
The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) has approved Ontario Power Generation’s application for the extension of the plant’s operating license from the original shut-down date of two reactors in 2020 and two in 2022, until November 2025. This extension has been granted so that the four reactors at the site can be refurbished for continued operation for an additional 30 years. The cost of the refurbishment is budgeted at C$13 billion and is planned to take ten years. One reactor will be taken off-line at a time, the fuel removed, heavy water coolant drained and the reactor components replaced. The Darlington plant generates 3.5 gigawatts (GW) of power, or about 20% of Ontario’s electricity needs.
Pickering Nuclear Power Plant
The operating license of the Pickering plant is due to expire in 2018, but in order to avoid a potential shortfall of 2-3GW in the province’s energy requirements from 2020 onwards, the Ontario government has authorized Ontario Power Generation (OPG) to apply for a license from the CNSC to extend the operating life of the reactors. The application will be for two reactors to continue operation until 2022 and for the other two to continue to 2024. The Pickering plant generates 3.1GW or 15-20% of Ontario’s electricity.
Strapolec estimates that the life extension of the Pickering plant would save C$4 billion in gas that would have to be imported if the equivalent power would have been generated by gas-fired plants.
Bruce Nuclear Power Plant
Bruce Power has signed an agreement with the Ontario Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) to extend the operating life of the nuclear reactors at the Bruce Power facility to 2064. The agreement ensures that Ontario continues to get 6.3 GW per year of carbon-free electricity for an additional 30 years beyond the original retirement date of the reactors. Bruce Power’s contract is to deliver electricity at a price of C$65.73 per megawatt-hour (MWh), about 30% lower than the average price of C$98.90 per MWh that Ontario residents paid for electricity in 2015.
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