Darlington refurbishment cuts future carbon footprint

06 October 2016

Continued operation of Ontario Power Generation's (OPG) Darlington nuclear power station following its refurbishment will save the emission of 297 million tonnes of carbon dioxide over the period from 2024 to 2055, an independent report has found.

Darlington (Image: OPG)

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Associated with Various Methods of Power Generation in Ontario was prepared for OPG by environmental risk assessment consultants Intrinsik Environmental Sciences with the objective of providing an "impartial, scientifically defensible evaluation" of greenhouse gas emissions associated with various types of energy production projected for Ontario.

The report compares the environmental impact of running the Darlington station over the period from 2024 until 2055 against an alternate scenario in which the output from Darlington is replaced with a combination of renewables and gas. Under both scenarios, the output from the Pickering nuclear power station - which is due to close by 2024 - is replaced with a combination of renewables and gas.

Currently, nuclear electricity from the Bruce, Darlington and Pickering plants accounts for 60% of Ontario's generation. Darlington's four Candu units, with total capacity of 3512 MWe, supply about 20% of the province's electricity.

The report estimated the total reduction in greenhouse gas emissions over the 30 years following Darlington's refurbishment at 297 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, with an average reduction of 9.6 million tonnes per year.

Elliot Sigal, president of Intrinsik, said: "Our study concludes that given Darlington's large role in energy production in Ontario and low levels of greenhouse gas emissions, the refurbishment of the station significantly lowers Ontario’s carbon footprint versus other forms of electricity generation."

Refurbishment of the first unit - Darlington unit 2 - is due to start on 15 October, following more than six years of planning and preparation, and is scheduled to take 40 months to complete. Refurbishment of unit 3 is scheduled to begin in February 2020, as work on unit 2 finishes, with work starting on unit 1 in July 2021 and on unit 4 in January 2023. Refurbishment of all four units will take ten years to complete at an estimated cost of CAD 12.8 billion ($9 billion), but will enable the plant to continue operating for the next 30 years.

OPG plans to extend operations at the six-unit Pickering plant to ensure a reliable source of low-carbon electricity while the Darlington refurbishment is under way. All six Pickering reactors are expected to operate until 2022, after which two would shut down with four running to 2024.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News