Darlington site selected to host two new reactors

16 June 2008

The Darlington nuclear power plant in Ontario, Canada, has been selected as the site for new reactors, the provincial government announced. Three reactor vendors have been invited to continue participating in the procurement process.

Darlington (Image: OPG)
The Darlington site, which is operated by government-owned Ontario Power Generation (OPG), was chosen over the Bruce site, which is run by privately-owned Bruce Power. Construction of the new plant, which will be operated by OPG, is scheduled to begin by 2012, with completion set for 2018.

Maintaining and renewing Ontario's nuclear power plants is an important part of the provincial government's climate change plan and its 20-year plan to bring electricity to Ontarians. The construction of a two-unit nuclear power plant is part of the province's plan to maintain its nuclear generating capacity at 14,000 MWe. Under Ontario's energy plan, some C$26 billion ($25 billion) would be spent on nuclear generation by 2027.

In March, the Ontario government launched a two-phase competitive procurement process to select a preferred nuclear vendor. A commercial team, led by Infrastructure Ontario, is managing the procurement process. Commercial team members also include Bruce Power, OPG, the Ministry of Energy and the Ministry of Finance. A two-member decision review board will review the competitive process, which will be scrutinized by a "fairness monitor." A preferred vendor will be chosen based on the evaluation outcome and bidding process by the end of 2008.

Phase two


The next phase of the nuclear procurement project, the request for proposals (RFP), will focus on cost of power, on-time delivery and investment in Ontario. Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd (AECL), Areva and Westinghouse have been invited to participate. They will be evaluated in three key areas: lifetime cost of power; ability to bring the new plant into operation by 2018; and the level of investment in Ontario. GE-Hitachi had also been invited to participate in the initial phase of the process.

In the initial phase of the procurement process, the prospective bidders had to demonstrate the capability to execute a plan to provide the support necessary for a successful construction licence review and demonstrate a plan to deliver a construction licence application on schedule and in compliance with Canadian regulatory requirements.

Meanwhile, the provincial government has also reaffirmed the importance of the Bruce plant to Ontario's overall electricity plan. It said that Bruce will continue to supply some 6300 MWe of baseload electricity through either the refurbishment of the Bruce B units (Bruce units 4 to 8) or the construction of new units at the proposed Bruce C. A joint evaluation will be undertaken to assess the best option.

Ontario currently has 16 operating nuclear power reactors, which provide up to 12,595 MWe. They are all AECL Candu units, which require refurbishment after about 25 years of operation. Two units at Pickering A have undergone that work already and enjoy working lives extended out to 2018 and 2022; two at Bruce A are now being refurbished.

Bruce Power announced in August 2007 that it had decided to invest an extra C$1 billion ($950 million) to fully refurbish Bruce A unit 4, replacing its fuel channels in addition to its steam generators. This overhaul would see the unit operate until 2036 rather than just 2017. Bruce A unit 3 is undergoing the same work.

Bruce Power has also conducted studies into a possible Bruce C plant which could host four new 1000 MWe reactors. An application for a licence to prepare the site for a new plant was submitted to regulators in August 2006 and it is thought possible that the reactors could start up in 2014.