Open thread: nuclear refurbishment in Canada


in Canada, Economics, Politics, The environment

About 16% of Canada’s electricity generation comes from the 19 nuclear reactors at Pickering, Darlington, Bruce, and Point Lepreau.

For years, politicians, regulators, environmentalists, and the public have been contemplating whether it makes sense to refurbish some reactors to extend their lives, particularly as climate change has become a greater concern.

Today, World Nuclear News reports that Bruce Power signed an agreement with SNC-Lavalin for up to C$400 million of work “for Bruce Power’s engineering needs including field services and an incremental program to refurbish six Candu units. The company will be responsible for the tooling to remove pressure and calandria tubes, the installation of new components and the deployment and maintenance of a number of reactor inspection tools.”

WNN also reports that Intrinsik Environmental Sciences have estimated that refurbishing the reactors at Darlington could avoid almost 300 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions between 2024 and 2055.

All the familiar issues with nuclear are at work here: what sort of power would be used in the alternative? Could energy storage and demand management do the same job? Is it technically and financially feasible to extend the operation of existing nuclear facilities?

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

. October 12, 2016 at 3:07 pm


Canada’s mixed nuclear policy experiences:

Climate change and nuclear power in Ontario:

Climate Change, Energy Security, and Nuclear Power:

. October 14, 2016 at 5:20 pm

CLARINGTON — At 3 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 15, unit 2 at the Darlington nuclear station will be taken off-line for the start of a 40-month refurbishment.

The $12.8-billion refurbishment will take almost a decade to complete and will allow the four reactors to continue operating for another 30 years.

Work on unit 2 will run until February, 2020, when refurbishment will shift to unit 3, which will also take 40 months to complete.

Unit 1 is next and work on it will begin in July 2021 and run to September 2024. Work on unit 4 will run from January 2023 to February 2026.

The entire project will run 112 months.

Work on the project began in 2008 and included the construction of the Darlington Energy Centre on Osbourne Road. Part of the centre is mock-up of a reactor so workers can practise every move before moving on to an actual reactor.

Darlington provides 20 per cent of the electricity in Ontario, Lyash noted.

Refurbishing Darlington will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 297 megatonnes, he added.

. October 23, 2016 at 11:26 am

Nuclear Refurbishment

$12.8 billion over 10 years for 4 reactors

. October 23, 2016 at 11:32 am

Our Nuclear Future
The Agenda with Steve Paikin

. July 4, 2018 at 3:44 pm

Consortium chosen for Bruce retubing

15 June 2018

Bruce Power has awarded a CAD475 million (USD361 million) contract for the retubing of Bruce 6 – one of the key contracts for its Major Component Replacement (MCR) project – to the Shoreline Power Group, a consortium of Aecon, AECOM and SNC-Lavalin. The joint venture has also signed a Preferred Supplier Agreement under which it could be awarded similar contracts for five further Bruce units.

. July 4, 2018 at 3:45 pm

“MCRs are to be carried out at Bruce units 3-8 as part of Bruce Power’s Life Extension Programme, which will enable the Bruce A and B nuclear power plants to operate until 2064. Units 1 and 2 at Bruce A have already been refurbished. Extension of Shoreline Power’s contract to the other five Candu units, which are scheduled to be refurbished over the next 16 years, would depend on demonstrated success at unit 6.”

. July 4, 2018 at 3:47 pm

Ontario Power Generation starts rebuilding Darlington 2

12 June 2018

Work has begun to reassemble Darlington unit 2, Ontario Power Generation announced yesterday. The 878 MWe Candu unit is the first of Darlington’s four reactors to undergo refurbishment to enable it to operate for a further 30 years.

. May 23, 2019 at 6:02 pm

Canadian nuclear projects bring economic benefits

The 13-year Major Component Replacement (MCR) project being undertaken as part of Bruce Power’s life-extension programme will inject billions of dollars into Ontario’s economy, a new report has found. Meanwhile, the major project to refurbish Darlington unit 2 remains on track for completion in 2020, Ontario Power Generation (OPG) has announced.

Ontario meets first refurbishment target

The reactor core of Darlington 2 in Canada has now been rebuilt, owner and operator Ontario Power Generation (OPG) has announced, celebrating the installation of all its fuel channels. It is the first in a programme of ten reactor refurbishments.

New training facility ready for Bruce refurbishment

The opening of a training facility signals an important step in mobilising Bruce Power’s Major Component Replacement (MCR) project, the Canadian company has announced. The work is due to begin at Bruce unit 6 early next year.

. June 26, 2019 at 8:00 pm

OPG readies for fuel loading at Darlington 2

Preparations are under way for fuel loading to begin at Ontario Power Generation’s (OPG) Darlington 2 which is currently undergoing a mid-life refurbishment – 30 years after the first fuel bundle was loaded into the unit.

. December 1, 2019 at 7:20 pm

Fuel loading begins at Canada’s Darlington unit 2

13 November 2019

Fuel loading has begun at Darlington 2, Ontario Power Generation (OPG) has announced. The refurbishment of Darlington 3 is now expected to start in the second quarter of 2020 as the company applies lessons learned during the refurbishment of unit 2.

. January 28, 2020 at 5:44 pm

Bruce 6 refurbishment begins

Bruce Power has formally begun the execution phase of its first Major Component Replacement (MCR) project by taking Bruce 6 offline. Six Candu units at the Bruce site are to be upgraded between now and 2033, extending their operation to 2064.

. April 3, 2020 at 4:24 pm

OPG completes first Darlington rebuild

Reconstruction of unit 2 at the Darlington nuclear power plant in Canada has been completed and the process to restart the reactor can now begin, Ontario Power Generation (OPG) has announced. The company will delay the planned start of the refurbishment of Darlington 3, scheduled to begin in May, as part of its measures to ensure stable electricity supplies during the COVID-19 crisis.

. June 29, 2020 at 6:01 pm

Pandemic leads to moratorium on Ontario’s nuclear re-build programs

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, on March 25th Bruce Power suspended work on the re-building of its Unit 6 nuclear reactor. One day later, Ontario Power Generation (OPG) announced that it will not proceed with the re-building of its Unit 3 nuclear reactor at this time.

. July 18, 2020 at 7:50 pm

Aging Point Lepreau nuclear plant is running like a newborn

New Brunswick plant has operated trouble-free for one year

. May 5, 2021 at 7:45 pm

Against all that, though, two things must be remembered. One is that well-regulated nuclear power is safe. With the terrible Soviet-era exception of Chernobyl, nuclear disasters come without large death tolls. It was the tsunami, not radiation, that claimed nearly all those lives in Fukushima. The other is that the climate is in crisis, and nuclear plants can supply some of the vast amounts of emissions-free electricity the world needs if it is to cope. Solar and wind power are now much cheaper, but they are intermittent. Providing a reliable grid is a lot easier if some of its generating capacity can be assumed to be available all the time. Nuclear provides such capacity with no ongoing emissions, and it is doing so safely and at scale around the world.

Despite this, safe and productive nuclear plants are being closed across the rich world. Those closures and the retirement of older sites mean that advanced economies could lose two-thirds of their nuclear capacity by 2040, according to the International Energy Agency. If new fossil-fuel infrastructure fills the gap, it will last for decades. If renewables do so, the opportunity cost will be measured in gigatonnes of carbon. Renewables replacing nuclear capacity would almost always be better deployed to replace fossil-fuel capacity.

Sometimes the closure of nuclear plants is largely a matter of economics. In places where emitting carbon dioxide comes with no price, such as America, the benefits of being emissions-free are hidden from the market. That hurts nuclear, and it should be rectified. When closure is political, the onus is on Green politicians, in particular, to change their tune. To hasten the decline of nuclear power is wilfully to hobble the world in the greatest environmental struggle of all.

. September 5, 2021 at 8:19 am

Pressure tubes are six-metre rods that contain fuel bundles of uranium, and are considered the major life-limiting component in CANDUs, the reactors in all of Canada’s nuclear power plants. Tubes containing high hydrogen concentrations are more vulnerable to fracturing if they have pre-existing cracks. If one ruptures, coolant could be lost, which could trigger a range of scenarios from a relatively minor incident contained by the plant’s safety systems to a catastrophe in which fuel overheats

. September 5, 2021 at 8:21 am

The Bruce station has eight reactors, each containing 480 pressure tubes; the offending tubes were found in Units 3 and 6, neither of which is operating. One tube in Unit 6 exhibited readings of 211 parts per million, approaching double the regulatory limit, and far above Bruce Power’s prediction of 100 ppm. Bruce Power officials said all of the elevated readings were discovered in the same region, close to one end of the tube.

. October 5, 2021 at 5:10 pm

More issues at Bruce power station raise concerns about aging nuclear infrastructure – The Globe and Mail

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