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P3 2023: Ontario’s nuclear sector a model for the world, delegates told

Don Wall
P3 2023: Ontario’s nuclear sector a model for the world, delegates told
DON WALL — Pat Dalzell of Bruce Power (right) and Andrew Elnazir, a nuclear sector executive with AtkinsRealis, addressed CCPPP conference delegates in Toronto Nov. 14.

Two Ontario nuclear stakeholders sang the praises of the province’s sector to an international audience of P3 advocates recently, presenting the industry as mature, proven, clean, safe and cost-effective — in other words, a great investment.

The fireside-chat-style presentation was presented as part of the Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnerships annual conference held Nov. 13 and 14 in Toronto. Of Ontario’s two nuclear sector powerhouses, Bruce Power is playing catch-up to Ontario Power Generation in that OPG has already commenced planning and licensing for a total of four small modular reactors (SMRs) at OPG’s Darlington site.

Bruce Power’s expansion plans, meanwhile, are still intentionally vague — they’re “technology agnostic” is how presenter Pat Dalzell, executive director for corporate affairs with Bruce Power, described them.

As Bruce Power prepares for a significant period of planning for its future builds, Dalzell said, its track record with recent refurbishments will be a major selling point.

“With the ongoing success of what we’re doing, we’re able to demonstrate that you can do major projects, mega nuclear projects, on time and on budget,” he said.

Dalzell told the audience that 20 years ago, the Ontario government at the time decided to embark on a path to decarbonization driven not only by the requirement to meet Paris cli-mate action commitments but also to address a more immediate problem — poor air quality, which in the form of smog filled Toronto’s skies with a yellow haze for 55 days in 2005.

“In 2014 we burned our last piece of coal to produce electricity in the province,” Dalzell said. “Since that day, there has not been a single smog day in Toronto.”

Nuclear is Ontario’s primary source of electricity, with about 55 per cent of Ontario’s electricity generation sourced from three of Canada’s four nuclear power plants and 18 of Canada’s 19 commercial nuclear reactors. Bruce Power’s 6,400-megawatt facility in Tiverton is the largest operating facility in the world.

Co-presenter Andrew Elnazir, a nuclear sector executive with AtkinsRealis, which is the new branding for SNC-Lavalin, said messages P3 advocates and investors should take away from the conference are that nuclear projects are multi-year, which brings certainty in terms of the supply chain, partnerships and government approvals; and that Ontario’s two major producers have gained experience not only in building and operating the facilities in the first place but also in undertaking refurbishments.

OPG says by building multiple units at the same site in Darlington, OPG will be able to leverage common infrastructure, such as shared roads, utilities and water intake, which will help to drive down regulatory, construction and operating costs.

The policy pathway supporting nuclear in the province is clear. Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator has published a policy guideline titled Pathways to Decarbonization that calls on Ontario to more than double its nuclear capacity by 2050.

Funding already in place includes the Ontario Clean Energy Credit and Future Clean Energy Fund.

Bruce Power says it is well positioned for potential expansion, with a well-studied site, lots of space for expansion, existing transmission corridors, strong community support and an experienced work force.

It has formally launched an environmental impact process that includes Indigenous and public engagement and will submit an Initial Project Description to the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada in the coming months.

Its target for a new build sees a construction window of 2030 to 2040.

“We probably have the most studied piece of property in all of Canada,” said Dalzell.

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