Ontario will refurbish Pickering B NGS

TORONTO - The Ontario government has announced its intention to revitalize the venerable Pickering nuclear power station, which has been operational for over fifty years. This move could extend the facility's life by another 30 years.

This decision is timely, as Ontario anticipates a significant surge in electricity demand in the forthcoming years. Additionally, all provinces are grappling with new federal mandates for clean electricity, necessitating future power plants to achieve net-zero carbon emissions.

Todd Smith, the Energy Minister, is expected to endorse Ontario Power Generation's proposal for the plant's overhaul, as per a preliminary version of a government press release.

The renovation will focus on four Candu reactors, known collectively as Pickering B, which were originally commissioned in the early 1980s. This upgrade is projected to continue delivering 2,000 megawatts of power, equivalent to the current output of these units.

According to the press release, the project will span 11 years, create approximately 11,000 annual jobs, and contribute $19.4 billion to Ontario's GDP. However, the total budget for the project remains unspecified.

The project follows the ongoing refurbishment of four units at the nearby Darlington nuclear station, which is more than halfway completed with a budget of $12.8 billion.

The proposal awaits the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission's approval.

The Commission is also reviewing a prior request from OPG to extend the operational license of the existing Pickering B units until 2026. This extension would allow the plant to continue operating until the commencement of its renovation, pending approval.


Ontario's Ambitious Nuclear Strategy

The announcement regarding Pickering is part of Ontario's broader vision for an unprecedented expansion of nuclear power in Canada.

Last summer, the province announced its intention to nearly double the output at Bruce Power, currently the world's largest nuclear generating station.

Additionally, Ontario revealed plans to construct three more small modular reactors (SMRs) alongside the existing project at Darlington. These reactors are expected to supply enough electricity to power around 1.2 million homes.

Discussions about revitalizing the Pickering facility began in 2022, with Ontario Power Generation submitting a feasibility report to the government last summer.

The Ford government emphasized the necessity of this nuclear expansion to meet the increasing electricity demands anticipated from the auto sector's shift to electric vehicles, the steel industry's move away from coal-fired furnaces, and the growing population in Ontario.

Ontario's capability to attract major international car manufacturers like Volkswagen and Stellantis to produce electric vehicles and batteries is partly attributed to the fact that 90% of the province's electricity comes from non-fossil fuel sources.


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