Tag Archives: Darlington

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Rolling Out Refurbishment with Reliability and Skills Development in Mind

In just a few short months, Ontario will begin refurbishing 10 nuclear reactors at the Darlington and Bruce Nuclear Generating Stations. Refurbishment means replacing key reactor parts, such as pressure tubes, so the reactors can keep operating safely and at peak performance.

Refurbishment has been planned far in advance. It will extend by decades the lives of reactors that have already provided affordable and reliable electricity to Ontarians for 25 years. And because nuclear plant operations do not emit greenhouse gases, they are also addressing Ontarians’ growing concerns about climate change.

Keeping on schedule

Just as with renovating your home or servicing your car, scheduling the refurbishments is key to minimizing inconvenience. After all, nuclear reactors provided 62% of Ontario’s electricity in 2014, and refurbishing each reactor takes two to three years. Having too many of them offline at the same time would lead to brownouts in the power grid, or force Ontario to buy more expensive – and potentially less clean – electricity from other sources.

Ontario’s 2013 Long-Term Energy Plan, which set the refurbishment program in motion, recognized these challenges. The decision to refurbish reflects three of the five core principles of the Plan: cost-effectiveness, reliability, and clean energy.

To ensure reliability, the Plan set out a sequence for refurbishment at both the Darlington and Bruce facilities:

CNA-100 Nuclear Timeline-D4 (2)

This sequence ensures that no more than three reactors are offline at the same time. It allows spacing of the refurbishments so that the teams of engineers and other skilled professionals can learn from each refurbishment. That will help them to improve their methods and generate cost savings. During the early part of the project, up to 2020, Ontario will keep operating its reactors at the Pickering facilities.

Long-term benefits

The spacing of refurbishments over 15 years will ensure that nuclear power remains the major source of Ontario’s baseload power – the foundation of the province’s electrical supply. It will also provide lasting employment to skilled workers who will have opportunities to continue working on the reactors they helped refurbish – contributing to Ontario’s economy and growing the province’s skills base.

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Nuclear Refurbishment: The Best Deal for Ontario

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By Romeo St-Martin
Communications Officer
Canadian Nuclear Association

One of the biggest criticisms about nuclear power is that renovations are expensive.

But even with a big price tag up front, the refurbishment of nuclear reactors is still cheaper than the alternatives for reliable baseload power (the minimum amount of electric power delivered or required over a given period of time at a steady rate).

In Ontario, refurbishments are planned for both Bruce Power and Ontario Power Generation. Bruce Power is estimating it may spend up to $15 billion to refurbish six reactors at its Kincardine station beginning in 2016. And OPG’s Darlington refurbishment is estimated at $10 billion.

Combined, the two plants represent about 10,000 MWs of generation capacity. They produce about half of Ontario’s electricity. They have provided clean, cheap and reliable electricity to Ontarians for almost 25 years. As they come to the end of the first phase of their initial life cycle, the Ontario government concluded that refurbishment is a lot less expensive and cleaner than replacing that power.

“We needed to determine how that power is going to be replaced,” Ontario Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli said in a recent television interview with Global News.

“We made a determination that refurbishment is the least-cost type of generation. It’s 50 per cent less than the cost of new nuclear and less the cost of replacing those megawatts with gas. So we’re moving ahead because of the cost factor.

“The best cost deal in replacing the existing nuclear is to refurbish what we have.”

Chiarelli went on to explain that he is not expecting either refurbishment to go over budget.

“We built off ramps,” he said. “If OPG cannot deliver on budget and on time then there’s a real likelihood that cabinet will not proceed with the additional refurbishment.

“Building refurbishment is the best cost deal for the province by a large, large margin. The estimates we have now are reliable estimates.”

As for the other options, wind power is intermittent and cannot be relied upon as a base load power source. If you back up wind with natural gas, the price goes up and there is no price certainty over long periods of time for gas, which is currently cheap, but is prone to price changes.

While the price tag for refurbishment can be large, rates are affordable because it can be amortized over a 30 year period.

That was the case in New Brunswick with the refurbishment of the Point Lepreau Generating Station.

Even though refurbishment there went over budget, New Brunswickers will not see their power rates increase as the cost overruns will be paid back over 27 years.

“The costs related to Lepreau have been fully accounted for in our projections, and we intend to recover these costs through equal payments – similar to a home mortgage – made monthly during the 27-year life of the plant,” according to Gaetan Thomas, president of NB Power.

Former New Brunswick Premier Bernard Lord, whose government approved the refurbishment project in 2005, told Global News recently that when compared with the alternatives, refurbishment was “actually better than any alternatives.”

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CNA Endorses OPG’s Applications for Renewal of Darlington Facilities

The Canadian Nuclear Association (CNA) welcomes and endorses Ontario Power Generation’s (OPG) applications to renew its Darlington facilities. These applications cover refurbishment and ongoing operation of the Darlington nuclear generating facility, and renewal of the Darlington Waste Management Facility’s licence for a 10-year period.

“I’m delivering this message not just on behalf of at least 60,000 Canadians whose livelihoods are supported by our industry, but also for the 13.5 million Ontarians who deserve to enjoy the same affordable clean air energy in the future that they have in the past,” said Heather Kleb, CNA President and CEO.

“Darlington supplies electricity that is extremely reliable, reasonably priced, emits virtually no greenhouse gas from operations, and delivers high-wage, highly skilled jobs. The Darlington Nuclear Generating Station has been one of the largest contributors of electricity to Ontario’s power grid since 1990. We at CNA feel very strongly that the continued service of these facilities is vital for an ongoing stable supply of base load electricity to Ontario homes, workplaces and businesses.

“The Darlington station is an extremely valuable economic resource that has not yet reached the mid-way point of its functional service life. By renewing it, Ontario has a great opportunity to realize more value from this asset. The front-end cost of nuclear plants is spread over several decades of operating life, allowing them to produce electricity at low and predictable unit costs.

“Nuclear is one of the assets that has made Ontario so attractive in the past for investors and knowledge industries. Darlington is helping that to continue.”

A recently released study by Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters determined that nuclear is an integral part of Canada’s innovation, manufacturing and export capacity. Refurbishing ten nuclear reactors will support at least 10,000 jobs for the coming eleven years, plus ongoing long-term jobs in plant operations.

Ms. Kleb added that the safety of operations at Darlington has been demonstrated through 20 years of commercial power generation at this site, and over 40 years in the province.

Ms. Kleb spoke on December 5 at a Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) Public Hearing in Courtice, Ontario.

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Darlington Declared Industry Darling

On Tuesday, Darlington Nuclear was the recipient of the Award of Excellence by an international nuclear oversight organization.

The award recognizes a number of strengths identified in a recent peer review, including management and leadership; operator knowledge and skills; equipment performance and condition; and our response to Fukushima.

The positive recognition Darlington Nuclear has received from industry peers is confirmation of Ontario Power Generation’s unwavering dedication to continuous improvement in operational excellence and safety that has made OPG, and Canada, a world leader.  It also reinforces the station’s status as an excellent candidate for refurbishment.

Of the award and recognition, OPG says:

“As a nuclear operator we are entrusted by you to operate our nuclear facilities safely, reliably, and with the utmost care and responsibility. This award reinforces that our employees never take this responsibility for granted, and that we will continue to seek continuous improvement on our journey to excellence.”

Congratulations Darlington. This recognition makes official what we’ve always known, that Canada’s stations are safe, reliable and world-class. Thank you for your dedication and care – and for keeping the lights on in Ontario.

If you’re interested in finding out more about Darlington, please go to OPG.com.

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Now is the Time for Canada to Invest in Nuclear Energy

Here’s another great post from our friends at AREVA Canada. Executive VP Jean-François Béland shares his thoughts on the past year since the earthquake and tsunami in Japan and why now is the time for investing in nuclear.

Jean-François Béland, Executive Vice-President, AREVA Canada

Now is the time for Canada to invest in nuclear energy

By Jean-François Béland

During the year that has passed since the earthquake and tsunami struck the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan, many have questioned the future of nuclear energy in nations around the world. While a few nations have decided in the wake of Fukushima to move abruptly away from nuclear energy, many others have taken this opportunity to take a long hard look at this technology and have moved forcefully ahead.

Driven largely by internal political concerns, Germany declared it will gradually shutter its nuclear plants, opting instead to depend more on fossil fuels (domestic brown coal and imported Russian gas) and more renewables. But for the near term, Germans can expect higher electricity prices, more carbon emissions and Imports of nuclear produced electricity from France.

Others, such as China, India and the United Kingdom, are moving forward aggressively with plans for new nuclear power plants. China alone has 26 new reactors under construction, including two by AREVA. The U.S. government recently approved the construction for the first new reactor in 30 years, an event that will lead to other projects.

Taishan 1 EPR reactor under construction in China

Here in Canada, we stand at a crossroads. While some politicians have expressed their support for nuclear energy, this has not translated into the concrete actions necessary to spur significant new investments. Canada’s nuclear power plants generate 15% of our electricity safely, reliably and without producing greenhouse gases. But nearly 20 years have passed since a new plant has come online.

In Ontario more than 50% of the electricity comes from nuclear energy, making this technology critical for the economy. Nuclear energy’s low cost and reliability enables our industrial base in Ontario to remain competitive. Let’s face it, nuclear power generation helps maintain industrial and manufacturing jobs in Ontario better than any other fiscal incentive to date.

The refurbishment project at Darlington Nuclear Generating Station in Ontario has just taken another step forward. This is indeed a positive development. But we must move forward now with the development of new plants to ensure we have reliable power for the future. In addition, each new nuclear plant project would create thousands more jobs and spur billions of dollars in regional investment.

We continue to work with NB Power and other partners on the possibility of developing at the Point Lepreau site in New Brunswick a Clean Energy Park, using a combination of AREVA nuclear energy and renewable technology.

We are delighted to see strong support in Saskatchewan for further development of nuclear technology in the province. Saskatchewan has the world’s best uranium deposits. And for decades, AREVA has been a leading uranium producer in northern Saskatchewan.

Over the past year, the Canadian nuclear industry has thoroughly assessed its systems and operations to ensure its safety. In October, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission concluded that all Canadian nuclear plants could withstand conditions similar to those at Fukushima. But, as an industry, we are still working every day to improve – our operations, our efficiency and our safety. AREVA is likewise constantly striving to help our customers produce cleaner, safer and more reliable electricity.

Canada has an opportunity to regain a leadership position in the one of the world’s pre-eminent clean energy technologies. But to do this, our leaders must take courageous, long-term decisions to invest in new nuclear energy projects today. As a proud Canadian and nuclear industry employee, I look forward to seeing the next new nuclear plant under construction in Ontario. While this may not be the easiest course of action, our leaders will find that new investment in nuclear energy is good for Canadians’ electricity rates, Canada’s industrial base, and Canada’s clean energy future.

Jean-François Béland is Executive Vice President of AREVA Canada.

This post originally appeared on the AREVA North America: Next Energy Blog.

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Darlington New Build Passes JRP Environmental Assessment

Yesterday the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) released a report by a federally-appointed Joint Review Panel (JRP) to evaluate the proposed new nuclear power plant at Darlington. We are proud of OPG’s extensive work and thorough studies undertaken as part of this environmental assessment (EA) process. We are especially pleased that the Panel came to the same conclusions as OPG: that Darlington New Nuclear Project will not result in any significant adverse environmental effects, given mitigation, to workers, the public or on the surrounding environment.

Public input, including the public hearings, is an integral part of the EA process. OPG’s public consultation process throughout the EA was extensive and inclusive.

The CNA was an intervener during the process and our message was clear:

  • This proposed project is a very important step in fulfilling Canada’s growing energy demands.
  • New nuclear units are an integral part of the electricity supply and consistent with the direction of the Government of Ontario’s commitment to maintaining nuclear power at 50 per cent of the province’s energy supply in the Long-Term Energy Plan.

It was great to see so much participation in the hearings by the communities, individuals and groups that took part in the public review process.

OPG has what it takes to do the job!
OPG has the necessary experience to move forward and manage a project of this magnitude. The Darlington site hosts a four-unit station that has provided safe, reliable and clean energy for 20 years with minimal environmental effect. OPG has experience successfully managing complex nuclear projects (i.e. Pickering A unit 1, Pickering units 2&3 safe storage, Pickering and Darlington Vacuum Building Outages). OPG will now thoroughly review the Panel’s report and work with our partners to implement the best solutions for the mitigation requirements set by the Panel as they await the final Government response.

Here is a link to the  Joint Review Panel summary report.

For more information about the JRP hearing, see the news release sent during the hearing about CNA’s involvement as an intervener.