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Company says it is advancing long-term planning and consultation activities

Ontario energy minister Todd Smith: ‘New nuclear generation is going to be critical to building the clean grid of the future’.

Canadian utility Bruce Power is starting early work to expand the Bruce nuclear station, potentially building the world’s biggest commercial nuclear facility as growing demand for low-carbon energy spurs interest in nuclear power.

The Ontario government said Bruce Power will carry out an environmental assessment for adding as much as 4.8 GW of capacity to its Bruce station in Ontario, Canada’s most populous province. The facility’s eight Candu reactors have almost 7 GW (gross) of capacity and supply 30% of the province’s power.

The expansion would make the site larger than Japan’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa station, the biggest in the world with seven units and more than 7.9 GW (gross) of capacity, although operation of all those units has been suspended since the 2011 Fukushima disaster.

Electricity demand in Ontario is rising for the first time since 2005, the government said. It has already implemented a plan to meet rising demand in the current decade, but Ontario's Independent Electricity System Operator said in a report last year that the province could need to more than double its electricity generation capacity from today’s 42,000 MW to 88,000 MW by 2050.

The report recommended that Ontario begin planning, siting and environmental assessment work for long-lead assets, including nuclear power.

“Nuclear power has been the stable backbone of Ontario’s clean electricity system for decades and Bruce Power is ready to play an integral role in addressing the province’s clean energy needs, while supporting good jobs and economic prosperity for the future,” said Mike Rencheck, president and chief executive officer of Bruce Power.

“We are advancing long-term planning and consultation activities to determine how the site can further contribute to Ontario’s clean energy and economic development goals.”

Ontario’s energy minister Todd Smith said the province is starting the pre-development work to identify future generation options, including reliable, affordable and clean nuclear energy, that will “power our province into the future”.

Nuclear ‘Critical’ To Green Grids Of Future

“New nuclear generation is going to be critical to building the clean grid of the future,” Smith said.

Canada is developing plans for a net-zero power grid by 2035 and the Bruce project would be the first conventional nuclear plant in the province in three decades.

Canada has a fleet of 19 commercial nuclear power plants that provide about 14% of its electricity generation. Major projects have begun to extend the lifetime of reactors at the Bruce, Darlington and Pickering stations.

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, nuclear energy is the second largest source of non-emitting electricity in Canada, with its 19 reactors producing approximately 15% of Canada’s electricity supply.

Canada is also the world’s second largest uranium producer, with over 8% of total world production coming from mines in Saskatchewan in 2020. Most of Canada’s uranium production is exported for use in nuclear power throughout the world.

Last year four provinces published ambitious plans for the deployment of SMRs, calling for the federal government to back ambitious deployment plans and a new class of Generation IV micro-SMR for remote communities and mines.

Also last year the government announced funding of up to CAD5m (€3.4m, $3.7m) for research and development projects that support provinces and territories as they work to develop and deploy SMRs as part of their decarbonisation and economic development plans.

In December 2022 site preparation began for Canada’s first small modular reactor at Ontario Power Generation’s Darlington nuclear site.

Utility SaskPower has chosen two sites in Saskatchewan for the potential construction of an SMR.

The eight-unit Bruce nuclear power station in Canada. Courtesy Bruce Power.

Date: Saturday, 08 July 2023
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