Wed. Feb 28th, 2024

Nuclear energy production could revive in Quebec in 2036, according to the Canadian Energy Regulator.

Hydro-Québec and nuclé area “No barrier to restart”” /></p>
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<p class=The control room of the Gentilly-2 nuclear power plant, in dormancy (Archive photo)

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Nothing prevents relaunching nuclear electricity production at the Gentilly-2 power plant in Bécancour , according to an analysis carried out on behalf of Hydro-Québec. The conclusions of this “preliminary” evaluation were obtained by Radio-Canada.

This information is included in a four-page document submitted by the state company on January 25 to the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture, fisheries, energy and natural resources.

Hydro-Québec's senior management committed to providing this information, following questions from Liberal Leader Marc Tanguay on November 30, during a hearing at the National Assembly of Quebec.

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The Gentilly-2 nuclear power plant, in Bécancour, has been out of operation since December 28, 2012. (Archive photo)

Hydro-Québec has mandated the firm AtkinsRéalis (formerly SNC-Lavalin), this summer, to carry out an assessment of the state of the installations of the Gentilly-2 nuclear power plant, whose operations ceased in 2012.

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The objective of the mandate was to obtain an inventory of the assets in order to document whether their return to service was possible or if this is simply impossible, explains the state company in its letter.

Following the visit to the facilities, no major barrier was identified for the restart of the Gentilly-2 power station.

A quote from Hydro-Québec, document dated January 25, 2024, submitted to the #x27;National Assembly

The study also indicates that adding capacity to the site could be possible, subject to validation certain constraints (example: cooling capacity) and explore potential solutions.

However, additional exhaustive analyzes would be necessary in order to confirm or refute these preliminary findings, specifies the state-owned company.

The letter explains that the report ordered from the firm must remain confidential, because it contains information of a commercial, scientific, technical and strategic nature or an industrial secret belonging to Hydro-Québec or AtkinsRéalis whose disclosure could likely harm economic interests. of both parties or the community.

No additional analysis is currently underway or planned, adds Hydro-Québec, which reminds parliamentarians that its 2035 Action Plan to increase electricity production (New window) does not provide for any addition of megawatts from nuclear energy. But what will happen after 2035?

In a report published last year, the Canada Energy Regulator forecast energy production in the country with a view to decarbonization in 2050.

Quebec, which left nuclear power 12 years ago, would thus make its return with the use of uranium to produce electricity up to x27;four times more important than at the time of Gentilly-2 in operation.

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The Canada Energy Regulator's scenarios predict, in Quebec as in other provinces, a significant increase in small modular reactors (SMRs) rather than the construction of new large-scale nuclear facilities. p>

We project considerable growth for SMRs, particularly for the period 2035 to 2050 .

A quote from the Canadian Energy Regulator, in its report Canada's Energy Future in 2023

The Quebec Minister of the Economy , Innovation and Energy, Pierre Fitzgibbon, cited PRMs as an example more than once.

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Closing the door to nuclear power “would be irresponsible”, according to Pierre Fitzgibbon. (File photo)

On November 30, in a parliamentary committee, a vice-president of Hydro-Québec, Claudine Bouchard, said that the state company is evaluating the potential of the existing Gentilly-2 site to accommodate a nuclear power plant or small modular reactors which could play a role in Quebec after 2035.

The state company must significantly increase its production, due to x27;strong demand for electricity which exceeds available supply.

We are interested, potentially, in the future, [in] small modular reactors which could be well structured for certain places in Quebec, but it is not something which is part of the [2035] plan. /p>A quote from Michael Sabia, CEO of Hydro-Québec, on November 30, 2023, in parliamentary committee.

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The Darlington Nuclear Generating Station, Ontario (File photo)

In Canada, there are three large power plants operating in Ontario and one in New Brunswick. About 14% of the country's total electricity generation comes from nuclear power.

In 2022, the governments of Ontario, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Alberta released a strategic plan for the deployment of SMRs.

SMRs are an emerging category of nuclear reactors that are smaller than conventional nuclear power plants in terms of size and power output.

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In 2011, pressure was strong after the Fukushima accident to order the decommissioning of Gentilly -2, as the government of Pauline Marois finally did the following year.

With a power of 675 megawatts, the Gentilly-2 power station generated at the time approximately 2% of all the electricity produced in Quebec thanks to its approximately 800 employees.

When announcing the end of operations in 2012, Hydro-Québec estimated the cost of repairs of its power plant at 4.3 billion dollars.

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