Tag Archives: Ontario Power Generation

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Cost of Nuclear Power in Ontario

The Ontario Energy Board (OEB) has released its latest report which tells customers how much their electricity costs.

What you pay is in part related to where you get your electricity from.  In Ontario, the diversified energy mix is made up of nuclear, hydro, fossil fuels, solar and wind.  Each source has a different cost when it comes to producing energy.  That applies to all energy sources.nuclear-expense-michelle-01

The OEB report confirms that low-carbon nuclear is low-cost to ratepayers.  Electricity generated by nuclear power is almost 7 times most cost-effective than solar.

In recent years, nuclear power has supplied Ontarians with almost 60% of their electricity. The Ontario government’s commitment to refurbish reactors at both Darlington and Bruce shows the province believes nuclear energy – with its minimal greenhouse gas emissions and small land footprint – is not only good for the environment, but also good for ratepayers.

According to Ontario Power Generation (OPG), investing in nuclear means investing in affordable power for the future.

“The price of power from the refurbished station is expected to be between 7 and 8 cents per kilowatt hour,” according to OPG.  The refurbishment assures another 25 to 30 years of operation.

Links

To see how much of Ontario’s clean electricity is produced by the province’s nuclear reactors – in real time – visit www.live.gridwatch.ca

To see how changes to the electricity supply powering your home affects your cost of electricity and the quantity of CO2 emissions produced – try the Energy Calculator at www.brucepower.com  (“How is your home powered?”)

CNA2015

How OPG Stores Nuclear Waste Today

When people visit nuclear power plants, they’re often amazed to see nuclear workers standing right beside containers of used nuclear fuel.

“You can safely stand next to them, knowing the radiation is safely contained,” says Val Bevacqua. He is in charge of used-fuel storage for Ontario Power Generation (OPG), which owns all the Ontario reactors that generate electricity.

What makes them safe? They’re made of concrete more than half a metre thick and lined with steel plate. Each of these large, white bins stands about four metres high and weighs 60 tonnes – empty.

Once the spent fuel goes in, skilled workers weld the container shut, vacuum-dry the interior, pump it full with inert helium, and test rigorously for leaks.

Used fuel is very hot and radioactive. A robot removes the fuel bundles from the reactor and places them in bays that look like swimming pools. Despite the strong radiation, Val says, “just a few metres of water can provide a remarkable protective shield for workers and environment from the radiation.”

After about 10 years, the fuel bundles cool and lose most of their radioactivity. Then, nuclear workers use remote tools to place the fuel in the dry storage containers, which are kept on-site.

Darlington

OPG employees are the operation’s core strength. They are all highly trained, and kept safe by radiation-protection equipment and dosimeters.

OPG’s used-fuel storage faces regular inspections by regulators, and the inspectors also make surprise visits. The inspectors track every fuel bundle. And they ensure that the storage containers haven’t been tampered with.

Onsite storage has worked well. The containers are safe and secure. But the sites have to be managed and guarded, and the containers won’t last forever. Eventually, Canada intends to store all used fuel underground, at a site with the right geology and a willing host.

Communities that have shown interest in hosting the permanent site are learning more through OPG. “We’re part of the community, and we host a lot of tours,” says Val.

“Tours are an opportunity for communities to see for themselves what is involved in the safe handling of nuclear fuel and how these hazards can be safely handled without risk to the workers, the public, or the environment.”

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New Fault Detection Technology to Improve Power Plant Safety

Fault DetectionResearchers at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) in Oshawa, Ontario, have been working with Ontario Power Generation (OPG) and Bruce Power to develop innovative solutions for nuclear power plant safety.

The process is called Fault Semantic Network. Dr. Hossam A. Gabbar, who is a professor with UOIT’s Faculty of Energy Systems and Nuclear Science (cross-appointed to the university’s Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science), says the process will allow nuclear plant operators to truly understand potential fault possibilities and how best  to prevent them.

Dr. Gabbar and students have been developing computer models that use real-time utility data and simulate problems, or “faults,” at nuclear power plants.

This model-based approach can be implemented in parallel with a real plant. It is expected to enhance system performance by improving plant safety.

“This will enable operators like OPG and Bruce Power to actually model the fault and model the problems in critical equipment and identify what are the protection barriers or layers and what is the probability of different faults,” Dr. Gabbar said.

“It will allow operators to have a better understanding of actual fault propagation scenarios and will link these fault scenarios into safety protection layers to overcome any fault propagation scenario.”

Dr. Gabbar and his students have done a number of case studies that simulate things such as steam generation faults and steam pressure faults.

Canada’s nuclear power operations have a proven track record of being among the safest in the world. They are highly monitored, stringently regulated and continuously improved through the daily efforts of qualified professionals who are committed to ensuring public safety.

In keeping with the industry’s philosophy of continuous improvement, new methods and enhancements to existing methods are being developed in the areas of systems analysis, accident causation, human factors, error reduction and measurement of safety performance.

Using Fault Semantic Network (FSN) for troubleshooting faults in CANDU reactors will only build on the current knowledge and improve safety in the future.

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Nuclear Refurbishment: The Best Deal for Ontario

Calculator

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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Nuclear Provides 62% of Ontario’s Electricity

Nuclear power generated 62 per cent of Ontario’s electricity for the year of 2014, recently released data shows.

The Independent Electrical System Operator (IESO) bought 94.9 terawatt hours of electricity from nuclear generators in 2014. That’s 62 percent of electricity delivered through Ontario’s grid, up from 59 per cent in 2013.

Energy output by fuel type

Better yet – the nuclear power industry delivered all this electricity at roughly six cents per kilowatt-hour. That’s well below the average price paid by Ontario consumers of 8.5 cents.

In just six years, nuclear has increased to 63 per cent from 53 per cent in 2008, according to the IESO.

This confirms the wisdom of Ontario’s strategic investment in nuclear energy and shows its enduring benefits.

Nuclear power continues to provide Ontario with safe, reliable, and carbon-free electricity at a price well below the rates set in Ontario’s regulated-price plan. The province’s nuclear electricity providers – Ontario Power Generation Inc. and Bruce Power – received approximately six cents per kilowatt hour in 2014.

In addition to affordable electricity, the nuclear industry provided significant economic benefits to Ontario through thousands of durable, high-paying jobs. According to Canada’s Manufacturers and Exporters, the nuclear industry employs about 60,000 people directly and in its supply chains.

Rejuvenating ten of Ontario’s 18 nuclear reactors would add thousands more jobs between 2016 and 2031.

Nuclear News

Top Ten Nuclear News Stories in 2014

By Romeo St-Martin
Communications Officer
Canadian Nuclear Association

Greater media coverage and government concern about climate change powered a steady supply of nuclear energy issues in the media in 2014.

As 2014 closed, Japan pressed ahead with plans to restart its nuclear reactors, Germany’s Energiewende continued to raise questions about whether renewables can replace fossil fuels, and more and more environmentalists came to support nuclear power.

Here, in no particular order, are 10 of the most-talked-about nuclear energy issues of 2014.

China

The nuclear industry’s Asian expansion continued, with China leading the way. Not only is the country’s economy expanding, lifting millions out of poverty, but its middle class is fed up with coal-driven pollution in major cities.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Barack Obama announced a surprise climate agreement in December that would see China’s CO2 emissions peak by 2030.

Not surprisingly, Chinese leaders have begun to rapidly develop nuclear power, as the negative impact of Japan’s nuclear crisis in 2011 wanes. Under the country’s National Energy Administration’s latest Five-Year Plan, China will invest $196 billion in 101 new reactors between 2015 and 2030.

Canada will play a role in this scale-up. Candu Energy Inc. announced in November that its Advanced Fuel CANDU Reactor (AFCR) earned a positive review from a Chinese scientific panel. The review will lead to further development and construction with significant benefits to the Canadian industry.

“It’s a big step toward our entry into the biggest nuclear market in the world,” Jerry Hopwood, vice-president of Candu Energy, told the Toronto Star.

Radiation in perspective

Stories that brought perspective to radiation exposure were popular in social media, catalyzed in part by a United Nations report that dispelled one of the most popular myths regarding the 2011 Fukushima nuclear meltdown.

The United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) said in its April report that it did not expect “significant changes” in future cancer rates that could be attributed to radiation exposure from the reactor meltdowns.

Social media also took note of a study by a Scottish mountain climber and radiation-protection advisor who found climbers scaling Mt. Everest received a radiation dose five times more than the average annual exposure of a UK nuclear power worker.

Google’s Energiewende

google hqWind and solar energy’s continuing unpredictability gained widespread attention thanks to in part to a viral story about Google’s decision to scrap its renewable energy program, RE<C.

“Trying to combat climate change exclusively with today’s renewable energy technologies simply won’t work; we need a fundamentally different approach,” wrote Google’s Ross Koningstein and David Fork in a piece published in IEEE’s Spectrum.

“We felt that with steady improvements to today’s renewable energy technologies, our society could stave off catastrophic climate change. We now know that to be a false hope—but that doesn’t mean the planet is doomed.”

Climate debate

Nuclear’s contribution to climate change mitigation gained further global recognition. The Economist published a chart that listed nuclear power as the third-biggest contributor to GHG reductions, trailing the Montreal Protocol (which reduced chlorofluorocarbons, hydrochlorofluorocarbons and hydrofluorocarbons) and hydroelectricity, but much further ahead of renewables.

To slash or to trim

Also the latest policy report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) included nuclear among the clean energy technologies whose total output must quadruple to help avert catastrophic climate effects.

Environmentalists continue to go nuclear

Carol Browner, former director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy
Carol Browner, former director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy

More environmentalists and scientists joined the likes of James Hansen and Mark Lynas as public advocates of nuclear energy.

Carol Browner, former director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy, joined the advocacy group Nuclear Matters.

Browner said in a Forbes piece that she had been anti-nuclear, but changed her position because of nuclear’s beneficial role in offsetting climate change.

In December, 75 conservationist scientists wrote an open letter to environmentalists urging them to reconsider nuclear energy because it helps preserve biodiversity.

Here’s the quote from their letter:

“Although renewable energy sources like wind and solar will likely make increasing contributions to future energy production, these technology options face real-world problems of scalability, cost, material and land use, meaning that it is too risky to rely on them as the only alternatives to fossil fuels. Nuclear power—being by far the most compact and energy-dense of sources—could also make a major, and perhaps leading, contribution. As scientists, we declare that an evidence-based approach to future energy production is an essential component of securing biodiversity’s future and cannot be ignored. It is time that conservationists make their voices heard in this policy arena.”

Energiewende

Germany continued its nuclear phase-out in 2014, creating a need for more coal-fired electrical production. Enough said.

Ontario goes coal-free thanks to nuclear

Ontario became the first North American jurisdiction to end the use of coal in electricity generation. The event was even noted by former U.S. vice president Al Gore.

Nuclear power played a major role. Between 2000 and 2013, nuclear-powered electrical generation rose 20 percent, coinciding with a 27 percent drop in coal-fired electricity. During the same period, non-hydro renewables increased from one percent to 3.4 percent. This major transition to a cleaner Ontario could not have happened without nuclear.

DGR

Also in Ontario, OPG’s proposal to create a deep geologic repository for low- and intermediate-level waste remained in the headlines.  The CNA appeared for the second time before the joint review panel to voice our support for the initiative.

OPG, with the support of the surrounding community, has proposed a permanent management solution for these materials. This speaks to the proactive and responsible environmental management to which all members of the Canadian Nuclear Association are committed.

Fusion

One of the biggest news stories featured an announcement by Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works division that it had made a breakthrough in developing a fusion reactor and could have one small enough to fit on the back of a truck in 10 years. The announcement stunned nuclear-savvy observers who had thought such a development would take much longer than a decade.

Quebec imports

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard signed an agreement November 21st on electricity. Ontario will make 500 megawatts available to Quebec to manage its winter demand peak, while Quebec will reciprocate for Ontario’s summertime peak.

The capacity amounts are small, representing about 1.4 percent of Ontario’s installed generating capacity of 33,771 megawatts (MW), and less than four percent of Ontario’s nuclear generating capacity of 12,947 MW.

In announcing the Quebec agreement, Ontario’s Premier Wynne rejected suggestions that imported electricity could reduce Ontario’s reliance on nuclear power. “We’re not anywhere near having a conversation like that,” Wynne told reporters.