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?