Tag Archives: LTEP

Uncategorized

Op-Ed: Ontario’s Long-Term Energy Plan: Why Pickering Matters

By John Barrett
President and CEO
Canadian Nuclear Association

Originally published in QP Briefing on February 7, 2017.

Ontarians and their government are completing a review of the province’s Long-Term Energy Plan (LTEP) to guide energy decision-making over the next three years to 2019. As anticipated in the previous LTEP (2013-16), the government of Ontario announced in December 2015 plans for the refurbishment of 10 power reactors at the Darlington and Bruce Nuclear Generating Stations over the coming 15 years. This was followed by the announcement that operations would continue at the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station to 2024 to meet Ontario’s clean-power needs during the early refurbishments.

There is a fundamental logic in the decision to extend Pickering to 2024. It is the linchpin of the refurbishment process, which in turn underpins the LTEP. It optimizes an existing asset, reduces electricity system costs for Ontario ratepayers, avoids a substantial increase in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and supports thousands of highly skilled, full-time jobs. Moreover, its 3,100 megawatts of power help to keep emissions down and pollutants out of the air during the important early stages of the Darlington and Bruce reactor refurbishments. This in turn preserves the integrity of the refurbishment project, which will give us another 25 to 30 years of positive clean energy, environmental and economic impact. In short, the Pickering extension is part and parcel of Ontario’s long-term energy future.

So Pickering matters for the long term. But it also matters for today’s Ontarians over the next few years.

One in seven homes and businesses in Ontario is powered by the Pickering nuclear station, just east of Toronto.According to a 2016 report from the Ontario Energy Board (OEB), nuclear power costs approximately seven cents per kilowatt hour, making it one of the most cost-effective, clean electricity sources.

In fact, during the most recent speech from the throne, the government of Ontario acknowledged the financial importance of Pickering, citing a cost-savings to ratepayers of $600 million simply by keeping the reactor running through 2024.

Next, environmental benefits. Nuclear power generation is zero-emitting when it comes to greenhouse gases. Continued operations at Pickering will therefore mean cleaner air and a healthier environment for the people of Ontario. How so? The numbers are substantial. Over the next eight years, power from Pickering will avoid approximately 17 million tonnes of climate-altering GHG emissions. This is the equivalent of taking 3.4 million cars off Ontario’s roads, making Ontario’s nuclear fleet the largest contributor to the province’s 2020 emissions-reduction target. If you take the emissions avoided thanks to the work of Pickering, and couple this with the benefits of the Darlington and Bruce refurbishments, the result would be like eliminating the GHG emissions generated by almost every building in Ontario.

Recently, critics of nuclear have advocated for the early closure of the Pickering nuclear station. Their argument — that the power from Pickering could be easily replaced through imports of hydro from Quebec — misrepresents the claimed ease with which Quebec imports can substitute for Ontario’s own clean electricity system and infrastructure. It would replace a reliable non-emitting source of energy with a blind faith — that Hydro Quebec will invest billions in transmission and generation to make it happen.

In fact, the 2013 LTEP concluded that, by shutting down Pickering in 2020 rather than 2024, electricity-sector emissions would rise by a staggering 60 per cent. Ontario would have to replace a large amount of carbon-free nuclear power with natural gas, resulting in GHG emissions and a dramatic move away from the government’s climate commitments. Then there are questions over Quebec’s ability to supply the 3,100 megawatts, which would come at a commodity price higher than that of Pickering today. Quebec would need new hydro-generating capacity if it’s to replace Pickering, with many regulatory and environmental approval hurdles to surmount. And new transmission infrastructure would have to be built by both Ontario and Quebec, with Ontario’s share being at least $2 billion and requiring seven to eight years to build. Importing Quebec hydro is therefore not a viable option as a substitute for Pickering.

By contrast, the continued operation of Pickering through 2024 gives Ontario a stable, reliable, affordable and non-emitting foundation for future de-carbonization of the province’s energy system. At the same time, Pickering is a vital asset to Durham Region’s economy, providing 4,500 full-time jobs to the community and over a billion dollars in local economic benefits. These highly skilled workers come directly out of Ontario’s own population and institutions such as Durham College and UOIT; they belong to the Power Workers Union, Steelworkers, IBEW and Building Trades; they’re your neighbours.

As Ontario looks to balance the immediate and longer-term needs of the economy with protecting the environment and the electricity consumer, while adapting to emerging trends and technologies — the “triple E” (clean energy, clean environment, economic benefit) contribution of Ontario’s nuclear power generation will become all the more important to the well-being of Ontarians.

The decision by the Ontario government to keep Pickering operational through 2024 was the right one. At a time when Ontario needs affordable, reliable energy to keep the lights on — when businesses and homeowners are depending on the province to provide clean energy and keep the air free of pollutants — we need to be open about the benefits of nuclear power. Nearly 60 per cent of Ontario’s daily electricity comes from clean nuclear. That is the reality. That is why Pickering matters.

Uncategorized

UN Experts: Triple Nuclear Energy

UN

By Romeo St-Martin
Communications Officer
Canadian Nuclear Association

In discussing climate change, politicians and media often speak of the need to increase “renewable energy” sources to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Not to get bogged down in semantics, but it would be more accurate to say that we need more “clean energy” sources. Clean and renewable don’t mean the same thing. For instance, nuclear isn’t renewable – the Earth has finite but extensive uranium resources. But nuclear is unquestionably a source of low-carbon electricity, and offers real potential in slowing down the concentration of climate-changing carbon in the atmosphere.

For example, did you know that nuclear power has the approval of the United Nations’ climate change scientific advisory body?

In April of 2014, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recommended tripling the amount of energy use from renewable energy and nuclear power in order to keep climate change within safe limits of two degrees Celsius.

The report recommends a massive transformation of energy policies, including calling for 80 per cent of electricity generation to come from low carbon sources, such as nuclear and renewable, by 2050.

“At the global level scenarios reaching 450 ppm (target for CO2 in the atmosphere) are also characterized by more rapid improvements in energy efficiency, a tripling to nearly a quadrupling of the share of zero- and low-carbon supply from renewables, nuclear energy AND fossil energy with carbon capture and storage (CCS) OR bioenergy with CCS (BECCS) by the year 2050,” the IPCC report states, as it clearly includes nuclear as part of the clean energy mix.

“Nuclear energy is a mature low-GHG emission source of baseload power, but its share of global electricity generation has been declining (since 1993). Nuclear energy could make an increasing contribution to low-carbon energy supply, but a variety of barriers and and risks exist,” the IPCC added.

The IPCC report is meant to offer guidance to policymakers.

Not surprisingly, nuclear is a part of U.S. President Barack Obama’s climate-change mitigation plan.

“The president continues to see nuclear energy as an important part of a diverse energy portfolio, and it’s part of his goal of doubling the national share of electricity from low-carbon energy sources by 2035,” U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said in a 2013 speech to the American Nuclear Society.

For what it’s worth, Ontario is already well down this road. Its Long-Term Energy Plan calls for more renewable power sources – while continuing the province’s strong reliance on nuclear energy.

Nuclear Energy

Ontario’s Long-Term Energy Plan

The Ontario government’s Long-­Term Energy Plan, updated yesterday, continues to place a strong, justified reliance on nuclear power to meet Ontario’s electricity requirements.

Nuclear power is a safe, affordable and reliable way to generate the province’s “base load” power. Base load refers to the power supply that operates continuously through the day and night, and is always available.

Read more about nuclear and Ontario’s long-term energy plan on our website:
* Economic impacts
Affordability
Reliability
Environmental performance

Base load electricity in Ontario is produced by nuclear generating stations and large hydroelectric generating stations. It differs from “peaking” generation provided by smaller hydro stations, gas plants and renewable power sources (mostly wind and solar), from which Ontario draws electricity as demand rises during the day.

The main differences between base load and peaking generation arise from the cost per unit of electricity and the certainty of delivery.

Base load power produces the majority of electricity in the province. It provides all, or almost all, of the electricity when daily demand is at its lowest point, near 4 am.

Demand rises through the day as people wake up and begin to draw more electricity for their needs – at home, the office, at school, in industry, and so on. As demand rises, other generation sources begin producing power to meet the rising demand. The Independent Electrical System Operator balances demand and supply to ensure the province has sufficient power at the lowest price.

With coal disappearing from Ontario’s energy mix in 2014, the province’s most-affordable energy sources are hydro ($0.035/kWh) and nuclear ($0.056/kWh). Both energy sources require very large up-front investments in generating equipment, but these are paid off over periods ranging from 20 to 60 years.

It’s the same idea that drives consumers to buy houses rather than stay in hotels – the house needs financing, but the benefits are worth the investment.

Recently, declines in the price of natural gas have made it seem an attractive alternative to coal, hydro and nuclear energy. Some advocates contend that natural gas could displace all three – and especially nuclear, given the significantly lower investment needed to build gas plants.

This perspective omits two important facts. First, gas prices are volatile; they have risen before and will eventually rise again whenever supplies tighten up. Uranium prices have also proved volatile, but they make up a very small part of the total cost of nuclear energy. Nuclear generators don’t have the same need to pass price spikes along to the consumer.

Second, burning natural gas emits carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, compounding the challenge of climate change.  According to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, gas emits 29 times more greenhouse gas than nuclear energy (and coal 62 times more than nuclear).

A decision to use gas for base load generation would create carbon emissions around the clock. It would also reverse the progress Ontario has made in reducing carbon emissions by substituting nuclear energy for coal.

These are the reasons to favour nuclear energy as a source of base load power, and to add a diverse mix of other sources—gas, hydro, wind, solar and others—to ensure Ontario can meet peak demand.

Read more about nuclear and Ontario’s long-term energy plan on our website:
* Economic impacts
Affordability
Reliability
Environmental performance