Tag Archives: hydro

CNA2017

Sponsored Content: Why Quebec Hydro Doesn’t Work For Ontario

The idea of importing hydro electricity from Quebec into Ontario is often cited by some environmental groups as a viable clean-energy alternative to the baseload provided by Ontario’s nuclear fleet. At face value, this may sound like a good idea. After all, Quebec’s electricity prices are the lowest in the country and Quebec already exports vast… read more »

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Ontario Writes the Playbook for its Nuclear Refurbishment

Editorial - principlesOntario is preparing to refurbish 10 of its 18 nuclear reactors, beginning at the end of this year. This investment will extend the lives of the reactors, keeping their operation safe and effective for decades to come. It will also create thousands of jobs and inject much-needed  dollars into Ontario’s economy. The project comes in at half the cost of building new reactors – and is considerably cheaper over the long term than investing in solar, wind, or gas for a similar amount of power.

As Ontario Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli said in an interview with Global News, “The best cost deal in replacing the existing nuclear is to refurbish what we have.”

That said, refurbishment still comes at a cost: about $25 billion for the 15-year project. So, Ontario’s Long-Term Energy Plan for 2013, which announced the government’s decision for refurbishment, set out seven principles for the refurbishment – and everyone involved in it.

“Minimize commercial risk on the part of ratepayers and government”

The people and government of Ontario are making a large investment in nuclear power. They should receive the expected return on that investment without a great risk of having to invest further. The other six principles follow from this one.

“Mitigate reliability risks by developing contingency plans that include alternative supply options if contract and other objects are at risk of non-fulfillment”

Ontario has a diverse power mix. Electricity comes mainly from nuclear power, but hydro, renewables, and gas also play important roles. The province can also buy power from other provinces or states. So, while the Long-Term Energy Plan recognizes the refurbishment of nuclear power plants as the best long-term option, the province will also look at investing in these alternatives. Ontario’s recent agreement to share electricity with Quebec at certain times of the year may create more flexibility for the province.

“Entrench appropriate and realistic off-ramps and scoping”

One way of holding the operators and contractors to account involves “off-ramps” – contract terms that allow the province to limit or stop the project if it goes over budget.

Hold private sector operator accountable to the nuclear refurbishment schedule and price”

As the private-sector operator involved in the refurbishment project of the Bruce power plant, Bruce Power must ensure that the refurbishments stay on schedule and within budget; the company will not be in a position to simply pass additional expenses on to ratepayers.

“Require OPG to hold its contractors accountable to the nuclear refurbishment schedule and price”

Likewise, Ontario Power Generation (OPG) is contracting much of the refurbishment at the Darlington station to more specialized companies. A slowdown or cost overrun for any one of them could affect the overall timeline and budget. So, these companies are being held accountable as well.

“Make site, project management, regulatory requirements, and supply chain considerations and cost and risk containment, the primary factors in developing the implementation plan”

Robust project management is at the core of the refurbishment project. For example, at Darlington, OPG did an environmental assessment, which showed that the refurbishment would not have any significant adverse environmental effects. A safety review also demonstrated that the Darlington plant meets modern codes and standards and follows sound industry practices. Safety improvements recommended by both these assessments are now part of the Darlington Integrated Implementation Plan. Finally, an overall risk assessment demonstrated that Darlington is a safe and reliable power plant, and will continue to be after planned safety improvements. Similar measures are underway at the Bruce facility.

“Take smaller initial steps to ensure there is an opportunity to incorporate lessons learned from refurbishment including collaboration by operators”

The refurbishment project will begin with two reactors – one each at the Bruce and Darlington facilities. Through the 15 years of the project, no more than three reactors are planned to be under refurbishment at any one time. This will provide opportunities to assess each refurbishment, learn from it, and apply those lessons to the next ones.

Even the first refurbishments will benefit from experience – such as refurbishments at Bruce Power, at Point Lepreau in New Brunswick, and at the Wolsong 1 reactor in South Korea. OPG has also created a full-scale replica of the Darlington reactor vault for testing tools, training, and ensuring that the teams can coordinate in real time.

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Why Ontario Needs Nuclear

The following infographic shows the rationale for using nuclear energy in Ontario. Simply put, Ontario is the second largest energy polluter in Canada, and nuclear is the only reason the province isn’t worse off. Among the clean energy options, nuclear is one of the most affordable, and it’s readily available.

The seven points below make it clear why Ontario needs nuclear.

Why Ontario Needs Nuclear - Infographic

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When is the Best Time to Take a Nuclear Power Plant Offline?

By Erin Polka
Communications Officer
Canadian Nuclear Association

What happens to greenhouse gas emissions when a nuclear power plant goes offline? Let’s look at the Bruce Power complex in Kincardine, Ontario. On April 15, Bruce Power shut down the four reactors in its B building to enable a vacuum building outage (VBO). The vacuum building, which is an essential safety feature, needs regular maintenance that should last about a month.

Shutting down Bruce B means some 3,268 MW of generating capacity needs to be replaced with some combination of hydro, gas and wind. Which combination is better for the environment?

Hydro capacity is highest in the spring, as winter snows melt and rivers run high. So it stands to reason that hydro power will make up for some of the shortage. (And, yes, the VBO was timed to match the availability of hydro.)

What about wind? Not as much help. Wind provides only four percent of Ontario’s electricity on average. Whether it could provide more would depend on whether the wind blows longer and stronger. Maybe it will, and maybe it won’t – hardly the reliability needed to replace the steady nuclear workhorse.

And then there’s gas. It can be fired up quickly and easily, it runs reliably, and it doesn’t cost all that much more than nuclear power – about twice as much.

In the best-case scenario, hydro would replace the power from the four Bruce B reactors. It’s the best case because hydro, like nuclear, generates no greenhouse gases. But there’s a problem. Hydro in Ontario is quite limited as a result of the province’s geography, and the province lacks sufficient transmission lines to import replacement power from Quebec. Also, even if the lines did exist, Quebec doesn’t have a spare hydro dam to match the output from the four reactors.

The next-best scenario would use all the available hydro power, keeping cost and emissions down, and use gas for the rest. Very likely, hydro could replace half the nuclear energy from Bruce B, and natural gas would replace the other half.

Is that a problem? After all, Ontario businesses and residents will still get steady, reliable electricity – just as they did with the Bruce reactors. But here’s the thing – natural gas emits greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide, which is primarily responsible for climate change.

GiraffesReplacing half the nuclear output with gas means the province’s gas plants will emit an additional 295,095 tonnes of carbon dioxide. For perspective, that’s the weight equivalent of about 300,000 adult giraffes.

What else would produce 295,095 tonnes of CO2?

  • Driving a car 35,563 times around the Earth’s equator
  • Taking 82,394 round-trip flights from Toronto to Sydney

And that’s not all. Unlike nuclear and hydro, gas also emits nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulphur oxides (SOx), and particulate matter (PM) during operation. These “other” greenhouse gases cause lung and heart disease, and make these conditions worse. They can also harm plants and animals on land and in the sea. And they can even cause building materials to deteriorate and weaken.

Drive around the worldOf course, if hydro weren’t able to stand in for the offline nuclear plants, then Ontario would need to use gas alone. And that would mean the weight of another 300,000 giraffes in greenhouse gas emissions, or another 35,563 trips around the world (“Are we there yet?”), or another 82,394 round trips to Sydney.

So, timing is everything. Scheduling the VBO in spring, when hydro reaches its peak performance, was a wise decision. Just how much hydro will be available, and how much gas is actually used, remains to be seen.

You can track the results on the CNA website, if you like. Check our emissions tracking.

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Oil, Gas, Hydro and Nuclear Join Forces for Let’s Talk Energy Week

By Erin Polka
Communications Officer
Canadian Nuclear Association

Whenever you round up advocates from the oil, gas, hydro and nuclear industries, a lively discussion is sure to ensue.

That’s what’s happening on Wednesday, February 26, at 10:00 am, at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum as part of Let’s Talk Energy Week, a national initiative to raise awareness about energy related issues and how energy is connected to our daily lives.

The Speaker Series, which is targeting secondary school students and teachers, will include the following energy experts:

Oil – William (Bill) Simpkins

Bill Simpkins is a senior energy industry consultant with more than 25 years experience in the energy industry. Bill has held senior executive positions at Petro-Canada including the Hibernia and Terra Nova offshore oil development projects. Bill is also a government relations and public affairs professional. He served as Vice President of Government Relations and National Communications at the Canadian Petroleum Products Institute in Ottawa. Currently Bill is responsible for Public Affairs, National & Atlantic Canada, at the Canadian Fuels Association. Bill has outstanding knowledge of the political and business landscape and is a member of the Nova Scotia Environment Roundtable, co-chairs an industry/government contaminated sites committee and served on the Nova Scotia Law Reform Commission task group on environmental liability.

Gas – Michael Cleland

Michael Cleland is Nexen Executive in Residence for the Canada West Foundation and has extensive experience in energy and environment policy. He is formerly President and CEO of the Canadian Gas Association. Prior to joining CGA, he was Senior Vice President, Government Affairs for the Canadian Electricity Association. Before joining CEA, he was Assistant Deputy Minister (ADM), Energy Sector in the Department of Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), formerly Energy, Mines and Resources (EMR) and before that, Director General of the Energy Policy Branch. From 1987 to January 1990, he was Assistant Director, Resource Policy Division in the Department of Finance. Before joining the federal government in 1987, Mr. Cleland worked in Nova Scotia where he was a principal in the firm of Cleland, Dunsmuir Consulting Ltd., lecturer in business/government relations at the school of Public Administration at Dalhousie University and academic editor of Plan Canada, the journal of the Canadian Institute of Planners. From 1982 to 1985, he was Associate Director of the Centre for Development Projects at Dalhousie University where he was responsible for various management training projects in Zimbabwe and the countries of the Commonwealth Caribbean. Prior to joining Dalhousie University, he occupied a number of positions at the Nova Scotia Departments of Development and Municipal Affairs.

Hydro – Jenna Van Vliet

Jenna Van Vliet received her Bachelor of Applied Science in Electrical Engineering from Queen’s University in 2007 and is a registered Professional Engineer with the province of Ontario. She has worked at Hydro Ottawa for the past 6 years in distribution planning and asset management. Jenna is the Supervisor of Asset Planning where she oversees a team of six, responsible for the reinforcement and replacement of distribution system and station assets.

Nuclear – Dr. Jeremy Whitlock

Dr. Jeremy Whitlock is the Manager of Non-Proliferation and Safeguards at Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL), Chalk River Laboratories, with responsibility for coordinating AECL’s R&D activities that assist the Canadian government in meeting its international obligations on nuclear weapons non-proliferation. He has been with AECL since 1994, mainly as a reactor physicist involved with CANDU and research reactor development. Dr. Whitlock received a B.Sc. in Physics from the University of Waterloo (1988), and an M.Eng. and PhD in Nuclear Engineering from McMaster University (1995). He is the Communications Director (as well as a Past President and Fellow) of the Canadian Nuclear Society – a volunteer, not-for-profit organization dedicated to information sharing on nuclear technical and social issues. He is also a public speaker and author on nuclear issues, including a regular column in the Bulletin of the Canadian Nuclear Society and The Canadian Nuclear FAQ, a website of FAQs on Canadian nuclear technology. Dr. Whitlock lives in Deep River, Ontario, and feels that canoes are the closest humans have come to inventing a perfect machine.