Fri. Feb 23rd, 2024

Ontario embarks on the most important expansion of nuclear power in Canada

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Ontario Energy Minister Todd Smith says refurbished reactors at Pickering nuclear power plant will be able to produce 2,000 MW.


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Ontario Energy Minister Todd Smith confirms the refurbishment of four reactors at the Pickering nuclear power plant, east of Toronto. The project is valued at billions of dollars.

Minister Smith maintains that the refurbishment will produce 2000 MW of electricity safe, reliable and clean for another 30 years.

Ontario has already announced plans to build a third nuclear power plant on the land of the Bruce Power plant. The province also wants to see three new small reactors built on the grounds of the Darlington plant.

The province's nuclear expansion plan x27;Ontario is the largest in the country.

Minister Smith says the province needs to renovate the Pickering Generating Station to meet growing demand for electricity, whether for new electric vehicle (EV) battery plants or the electrification of transportation.

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The Ontario's electricity demand is increasing for the first time in 18 years.

A quote from Ontario Energy Minister Todd Smith

For him, the expansion of wind energy would not be enough. He also maintains that Ontario will continue to need natural gas.

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The Pickering nuclear power station began producing electricity in 1971. (File photo)

Doug Ford's government is currently refusing to quantify the total cost of the renovation project in Pickering.

For comparison, state-owned Ontario Power Generation (OPG) will spend nearly $13 billion to renovate four reactors at the Darlington power station.

Minister Smith specifies that OPG will carry out a first phase of design and engineering in Pickering by 2024, which alone will cost $2 billion.

It would be irresponsible at this point to give you a figure [for the total cost of the project].

A quote from Todd Smith, Minister of Energy

OPG estimates it can complete the refurbishment work by the mid-2030s .

Refurbishing the reactors is necessary if the province wants to operate the plant beyond September 2026.

The Pickering project is subject to approval by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC). Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy is, however, “confident” that it will be approved.

This is very important for Ontario's economy and the green economy.

A quote from Peter Bethlenfalvy, Ontario Minister of Finance

Environmentalist Keith Stewart of the Greenpeace group counters that the Ford government's decision is “based on ideology, not economics.”

According to him, Ontario should instead focus on solar and wind energy.

Since the idea of ​​rebuilding Pickering was abandoned in 2010 due to high costs, the price of wind and solar power with battery storage has fallen precipitously.

A quote from Keith Stewart, Senior Energy Strategist, Greenpeace Canada (written statement)

This project makes “no sense,” adds Jack Gibbons of the Ontario Clean Air Alliance group, who decries the very high cost of nuclear power.

For his part, MP Peter Tabuns, NDP energy spokesperson, urges the government to demonstrate “transparency” and reveal any feasibility study for this project. We cannot evaluate this project without these details, he said.

The Pickering Generating Station has six operating CANDU reactors providing approximately 14% of the province's electricity.

Reactors 1 and 4 will cease operating at the end of 2024. As for reactors 5 to 8, Ontario has asked the CCSN to be able to keep in operation until September 2026, before their future complete renovation.

The CNSC has not yet approved the extension of operations until 2026. This request requires the holding of a public hearing, the date of which has not yet been established by the federal agency.

The request for approval of the reactor refurbishment project from the commission is different from that for the extension of operations.

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Ontario also wants to expand the Bruce Power nuclear power plant.

Nuclear provided about 54% of the electricity used in Ontario in 2022, according to data from the Independent System Operator #x27;electricity. This is a decrease of about 6 percentage points from 2020.

The other most important sources of electricity in Ontario are hydroelectricity as well as wind power and natural gas.

With information from Mike Crawley of CBC

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