Ontario plan has big role for rebuilt nuclear, but not new nukes

Bruce Power said Dec. 2 that it is pleased the Ontario government has confirmed its continued policy role of providing 6,300 MW of affordable, clean electricity for the long term, as part of nuclear meeting half of the province’s energy needs.

The results of Ontario’s Long-Term Energy Plan review, released on Dec. 2, reflect the importance of a successful nuclear renewal program, Bruce Power noted. This policy commitment allows the nuclear industry to focus on the refurbishment program at the Bruce facility. Ontario’s plan, which serves as the policy framework for electricity, outlines the importance of nuclear to the province’s energy supply and has identified a long-term schedule for securing the output from both the Bruce and Darlington facilities. Ontario Power Generation plans a major refurbishment project at Darlington.

“Bruce Power believes the focus on renewing our nuclear fleet is the right thing to do, as both the Bruce and Darlington units are critical to protecting the air we breathe and keeping electricity prices low and stable for our families and businesses for future generations,” said Duncan Hawthorne, Bruce Power President and CEO.

He added: “Over the last 12 years, Bruce Power has restarted units and demonstrated countless technical innovations to return our site to its full potential. Bruce Power will deliver the renewal program knowing we won’t be tackling anything we haven’t done before. Building on the experience we’ve gained through the refurbishment of Bruce A will be essential to our success and this will form the basis of commercial arrangements that we will now advance.”

With the policy now in the place, the focus turns to creating commercial arrangements to move the program ahead, Hawthorne added.

In 2012, Bruce Power returned its site to eight units of output following a multi-year revitalization program. In parallel, Hydro One successfully completed the Bruce-to-Milton transmission line to support this additional output, which represented the largest project of its kind in a generation.

The Bruce Power site has provided 70% of the additional electricity needed since 2002 to phase out coal-fired capacity in the province, with coal in its final days of operation in Ontario.

Bruce Power operates the world’s largest nuclear site and is the source of over 25% of Ontario’s electricity. The company’s site is home to eight CANDU reactors. Formed in 2001, Bruce Power is an all-Canadian partnership among TransCanada, Cameco, Borealis Infrastructure Management (a division of the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System) as well as the Power Workers’ Union and Society of Energy Professionals.

Long-term plan gets rid of coal, with no new nuclear build right now

The province’s 2013 Long-Term Energy Plan (LTEP) balances five principles that will guide future decisions: cost-effectiveness, reliability, clean energy, community engagement, and an emphasis on conservation and demand management before building new generation.

Compared to the previous plan, Achieving Balance is expected to reduce projected cost increases by C$16bn in the near term (2013-2017), and C$70bn to 2030. These cost reductions will be realized even as Ontario keeps its commitment to phase out the last of its coal-fired generation by the end of 2014, the Ontario Energy Ministry said.

Ontario will achieve balance in the energy sector by actions that include:

  • Decreasing the need for new supply by implementing conservation programs and standards to offset most growth in electricity demand over the next 20 years.
  • Expanding Demand Response programs to help achieve a 10% reduction in peak demand by 2025. This is equivalent to approximately 2,400 MW under today’s forecast conditions.
  • Moving ahead with nuclear refurbishment at both Darlington and Bruce, beginning in 2016.
  • Extending the phasing-in of wind, solar and bioenergy for three more years than estimated in the 2010 LTEP, with 10,700 MW online by 2021. By 2025 about half of Ontario’s installed generating capacity will come from renewable sources. 
  • Developing a new competitive procurement process with the Ontario Power Authority for future renewable projects larger than 500 kW.
  • Continuing to encourage First Nation and Métis participation in transmission and renewable energy projects.

Since 2003, more than C$19bn has been invested in Ontario’s transmission and distribution networks and more than C$21bn has been invested in cleaner generation.

In 2013, forecast electricity production in Ontario is: 59% nuclear power, 28% renewable sources, 11% natural gas and 2% coal. The 2025 forecast is 42% nuclear, 46% renewables and 12% natural gas. None of Ontario’s electricity will come from coal by then.

Under this plan, Ontario will not proceed, for now, with the construction of two new nuclear reactors at the Darlington site. The province will continue to work with Ontario Power Generation to consider new build in the future. New natural gas-fired generation is not required to supply province-wide electricity needs at this time, the plan added.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.