New nuclear still figures in Ontario plans

24 November 2010

Updated long-term energy plans issued by Ontario see the need for up to 2000 MWe of new nuclear capacity by 2030 as the Canadian province continues to work towards its goal of phasing out coal-fired generation.


The existing Darlington site (Image: OPG)
Described by Ontario minister of energy Brad Duguid as a "clean energy revolution", the newly updated plan sees all the province's coal units closed by 2014 in line with Ontario's 2007 Integrated Power System Plan (IPSP). Nuclear has long been acknowledged as a key part of that plan: Ontario's three operating nuclear power stations, Pickering, Darlington and Bruce, currently account for some 36% of its capacity and 50% of its generation. The long-term plan sees nuclear maintaining that share to provide the province's baseload generation, but not increasing its contribution beyond 50%. The new plan calls for power from renewable sources to increase its share to 13% by 2018 from a current level of 3%, and a large expansion of hydroelectric capacity.
Most of the 12,000 MWe of nuclear capacity needed will be supplied by the existing Darlington and Bruce plants, which will be refurbished and modernised over the first 10-15 years of the plan. With the Pickering power plant earmarked for closure in 2020, the remaining 2000 MWe of nuclear capacity will be made up by new reactors at the Darlington site.
The contents of the new plan are not dissimilar to those in the 2007 IPSP, which already planned for the closure all of Ontario's coal-fired capacity by 2014 with strong reliance on nuclear baseload generation. Indeed, the provincial government launched a process to procure new units for the Darlington site in 2008. However, that process was placed on hold in June 2009 in the wake of uncertainty on the future of ownership of Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd (AECL), the only bidder to comply with the terms of the request for proposals.
Despite the suspension of the procurement process, Ontario Power Generation (OPG) has continued with the environmental assessment and the process to obtain a site preparation licence for the Darlington site. With progress from the federal government on the restructuring of AECL anticipated by the end of the year, the province says it expects to be able to complete a deal with the new owner "at a price that is in the best interest of ratepayers".
The new long-term plan will be integrated into the Ontario's next IPSP, which is to be prepared in 2011.
Researched and written

by World Nuclear News