The most positive element of the government’s revised Long-Term Energy Plan is the commitment to refurbish ten existing nuclear units beginning with Darlington Unit 2 and Bruce Unit 4 in 2016. This investment offers greater environmental and economic benefits for Ontario.
The Plan establishes a series of principles to govern the refurbishment process to minimize any financial risks to ratepayers and the government. No other part of the electricity sector is subject to this degree of scrutiny.
- CANDU nuclear reactors have safely provided affordable low-carbon electricity to Ontario homes and businesses for over fifty years.
- Annually, Canada’s nuclear reactors help avoid about 90 million tonnes of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, about the same amount as taking 81 percent of Canada’s cars off the road.
- Refurbishing these reactors would help replace the 3,200 megawatts of GHG emission-free base load production that will be lost when the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station is scheduled to cease operation to close in 2020.
- A recent study by Strategic Policy Economics found that refurbishing Ontario’s nuclear reactors along with building two new reactors at the Darlington site would reduce incremental GHG emissions after 2023 by 108 million tonnes more than continuing to build additional intermittent wind generation with natural gas backup, 80 percent less GHG emissions.
- The safe, GHG emission-free, reliable 24/7 power provided by CANDU reactors aligns well with the overnight, off-peak charging of electric vehicles.
- CANDU reactors also provide GHG emission-free electricity that can help backstop climate change-vulnerable hydroelectric generation and be exported to our fossil fuel-dependent U.S. neighbours.
- These investments would leverage Canada’s $6 billion-a-year nuclear industry, its 160 supply chain companies, 60,000 direct and indirect jobs and millions a year in research and development at universities and colleges—most of which is located in Ontario.
- According to a recent analysis by Strategic Policy Economics, refurbishing these reactors along with building two new nuclear reactors at the Darlington site would provide an estimated $60 billion dollar net incremental benefit to Ontario’s economy compared to proceeding with more wind generation. The study did not consider the impact of carbon pricing which would further tip the scales in favour of nuclear generation.
- This $60 billion net incremental benefit includes $27 billion in savings to ratepayers and $29 billion in direct investment in Ontario, including the creation of 100,000 more person years of employment in high-value jobs many of which would be in the advanced manufacturing sector.
- Some form of carbon pricing, as we have seen in British Columbia, would further tip the scales in favour of nuclear generation.
- The safe, greenhouse gas (GHG) emission-free, reliable 24/7 power provided by CANDU reactors aligns well with the overnight, off-peak charging of electric vehicles.
- CANDU reactors also provide GHG emission-free electricity that can be exported to our fossil fuel-dependent U.S. neighbours.