Bruce Power has signed a letter of intent to purchase certain assets of Energy Alberta, which has already begun preliminary work on a proposal to construct a nuclear power plant in the Canadian province of Alberta.
Bruce Power owns and operates the Bruce nuclear power plant in Ontario and is itself owned by a group of partners including TransCanada and Cameco. The Bruce site houses the Bruce A and B generating stations, which each hold four Candu reactors. Six of those units are currently operational and Bruce Power is in the process of restarting the remaining two units at Bruce A.
In August, Energy Alberta announced that it had chosen Peace River as the potential site for its nuclear power plant and had filed an application for a site preparation licence with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC). The application is for the siting of up to two of twin-unit plants, using AECL's ACR-1000 Advanced Candu reactors. Energy Alberta said that it plans initially to build one 2200 MWe twin-unit plant, with a start-up target of 2017. No buyer for the electricity from any future plant has yet been announced, but it would be expected to be an oil company needing large volumes of power to extract oil from tar sands.
As part of the announced agreement, Bruce Power will acquire exclusive rights to use Candu technology in Alberta and as a qualified proponent will advance the licensing process for the ACR-1000 design.
Bruce Power will now begin the process toward launching a full environmental assessment of the Peace River site for potential nuclear generation. The company also intends to work with the Canadian Hydrogen Association to study the potential of converting electricity generated by nuclear reactors during off-peak hours into hydrogen. A similar study is being conducted at the Bruce nuclear power plant.
Alberta's electricity capacity is currently some 9000 MW, but increased demand, particularly within the oilsands sector, is expected to push demand up to around 14,000 MWe by 2016.
Duncan Hawthorne, President and CEO of Bruce Power, said: "Energy Alberta deserves great credit for progressing the dialogue around nuclear energy to the point where we feel it's worthy of further exploration." He added, "In the Peace Country region, where an application has already been made to site a nuclear plant, we have a community that wants to learn more about our technology. This is a valuable first step, but much more information needs to be shared. Our partners are serious investors and we are a proven operator, but any decisions we make will rely heavily upon having a willing host community. Hawthorne said that "having willing host communities and the site in the Peace Country is a great start to looking at broader opportunities in Alberta."
WNA's Canada's Uranium Production & Nuclear Power information paper
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