Ontario starts prep work for large-scale nuclear plant at Bruce Power

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Published July 5, 2023 at 1:26 pm

TIVERTON, Ont. — Ontario is looking to build the first new, large-scale nuclear plant in more than 30 years in order to meet the province’s growing electricity demands.

Energy Minister Todd Smith announced today that the government is looking at a new plant to generate up to 4,800 megawatts – enough to power 4.8 million homes – on the site of Bruce Power’s current generating station on the shore of Lake Huron in Tiverton, Ont.

The Bruce nuclear plant is already the second largest nuclear facility in the world, trailing only the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant in Japan for capacity, and the new build would put it over the top by a substantial margin.

The plans are part of the province’s attempts to meet electricity demand with non-emitting sources, though in the short- to medium-term the province is also relying on more natural gas generation.

A report late last year by the Independent Electricity System Operator found that the province could fully eliminate natural gas from the electricity system by 2050, starting with a moratorium in 2027, but it will require about $400 billion in capital spending and more generation including as many as 15 new, large-scale nuclear plants

Ontario, with its partners, GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, SNC-Lavalin and Aecon, are currently building a 500-megawatt Small Modular Reactor at the Darlington nuclear plant near Bowmanville, with the reactor – supplying enough energy to power 300,000 homes – scheduled to be completed by 2028.

Bruce Nuclear Plant

But a report from Canadians for Nuclear Energy, a grassroots nuclear advocacy group composed of energy workers, engineers, doctors, tradespeople, scientists, policy experts, and citizens, believe at least ten new reactors are needed for Ontario can meet its net zero commitments

The report – The Case for CANDU – believes new CANDU reactors will be “absolutely neccessary” to meet surging electricity demand in Ontario.

Chris Keefer, who heads up the group, said the local economic, clean air and climate benefits from the new build would be huge. “New large nuclear is coming to Ontario, for the first time in 30 years, just in time to keep Ontario green.”

The province launched consultations for building new nuclear and Smith says he heard a lot of support for the idea in order to prepare for surging electricity demand from electric vehicles, new electric vehicle and battery manufacturing and electric arc furnaces for steelmaking.

Smith says Bruce Power will now start community consultations and conduct an environmental assessment for federal approval to determine the feasibility of another nuclear plant.

“They have the world’s largest operating nuclear facility here right now, with about 6,550 megawatts, providing clean, reliable, emissions-free power to the grid, baseload power,” Smith said in an interview.

“On a daily basis about 30 per cent of Ontario’s electricity comes from this site right now. There’s room alongside (units) Bruce A and Bruce B, potentially, for a Bruce C and that’s what this pre-development work is intended to begin today.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 5, 2023.

With files from Glenn Hendry

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