Criteria for New Build Nuclear Energy in Ontario

November 7, 2013 – Toronto, ON  Last month, on the day after the Future of Nuclear 2013 Conference in Toronto, Ontario Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli made an announcement, “New nuclear will not be part of Ontario’s new Long Term Energy Plan.” He continued, “Sometime in the future, we might look at building new nuclear, but it will not be included in this review,”.

This begs the question. How long is the “long” in the Long Term Energy Plan. At our conference we’ve seen that realistically energy mix changes play out over decades and the most interesting perspectives and lessons are learned when taking an even longer time frame of a century or more. Certainly the people in Durham and the more than 20,000 employed by nuclear industry in Ontario are interested to know when new build might be appropriate.

Answers to these questions were provided by Amir Shalaby, VP of Power System Planning, Ontario Power Authority, at a breakfast in Durham yesterday. A full story may be viewed by clicking this link to the Oshawa Express.

Summarizing, at the DSEA breakfast, Shalaby laid out three criteria that must be satisfied for the new build to reappear on the province’s radar.

“If the situation three years from now or five years from now demonstrates high need for electricity in Ontario, more than the capability we have in the province, then that’s one factor,” explains Shalaby. “The other one is confidence in the project management and execution capability of the industry to bring in projects on budget and on cost. Complex projects have commercial risks and commercial consequences that are of concern to the province and others if they’re not done right.”

When asked how much demand would be required to justify a new build at Clarington, Shalaby called an increase of 20 terawatt hours to be a good start. By the Ministry of Energy’s estimate, Ontario uses 140 terawatt hours of power annually. In other words, the province’s energy needs would have to jump by nearly 15 per cent.

The new build is/was only one element of Ontario’s nuclear strategy though, notes Shalaby. In Durham, there is still the refurbishment of Darlington’s existing reactors and the continued operation of Pickering’s nuclear generating station. The continued safe operation of existing plants should be another priority for the nuclear industry, says Shalaby.

The third issue would be the effectiveness and efficiency of nuclear power compared to what else is available.

“The one good thing in Ontario is we have a lot of options,” says Shalaby. “Natural gas is a good option, imports from Quebec are a good option, efficiency is a good option, renewables are coming down in cost. So there’s a lot to choose from.”

Thank you to the Oshawa Express for reporting this story and providing the quotes.

 

 

The Future of Nuclear Power and The Long View

Below is a comment from Future of NuclearChair Henry Vehovec on his opening remarks and in response to post-event press coverage:

“The day after Wednesday’s Future of Nuclear 2013 Conference in Toronto the Premier Kathleen Wynne and the Province of Ontario announced that new build nuclear reactors would not be pursued at this time. Articles in the press cited pricing pressure from cheap shale gas, a decline in energy demand, and increased resistance to nuclear power in the post-Fukushima world as reasons for the decision. Although there has been a recent decline in nuclear power in the global energy mix it would be premature to dismiss nuclear in the longer term.

Henry Vehovec, Chair, Future of Nuclear

Henry Vehovec, Chair, Future of Nuclear

The global mix of major energy sources evolves over decades and plays out in time frames of a century or more. The first oil well was drilled in Pennsylvania in 1859, however, it wasn’t until the development of the Model-T Ford fifty years later that oil truly took off as a major global energy source. Similarly, civilian nuclear energy started about fifty years ago and the industry now needs game changing innovation if it is to compete with shale gas and address concerns of radioactive waste, safety and proliferation.

Are there any such game changing innovations on the horizon? At the Future of Nuclear Conference we heard about several nuclear technologies that hold the paradigm shifting potential to compete with shale gas.  New nuclear technologies that are on the drawing board can burn spent fuel, are incapable of meltdown, and do not produce fissile material. We heard about fusion from General Fusion, thorium and molten salt reactors (MSR) from Terrestrial Energy, small modular reactors (SMR) from Babcock and Wilcox, portable reactors, travelling reactors, floating reactors and more. These technologies have attracted investors such as Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates as well as some of the wealthiest sovereign funds. The only problem with most of these technologies is that they require at least a decade to develop and would cost several billion dollars to produce their first prototype let alone a commercially available product. In this era of short term pressures for quarterly results in business and governments that rarely think beyond the horizon of a 4-year election term it is difficult to find jurisdictions that plan decades into the future as is required when considering energy infrastructure.

China, India, Russia and UAE are examples of countries that are taking an appropriate long view to energy planning. Not coincidentally, these are also among the countries that are proceeding aggressively with their plans to build nuclear power capabilities. China alone has 29 reactors currently under construction. Although some jurisdictions in the west do not have local demand to support new reactors it would certainly make sense to stay engaged with the industry and act as a supplier to international markets where possible. As a commodity, shale gas will not be cheap and plentiful forever.”

Michael Delage and General Fusion at Future of Nuclear 2013

What do Jeff Bezos, BDC, SDTC, Cenovus Energy, Chrysalix, Braemar, Entrepreneurs’ Fund, and Growthworks have in common? They’ve all invested in General Fusion.

General Fusion was founded in 2002 with the goal of developing economically viable fusion power.  Michael Delage, VP of Strategy and Corporate Development, will represent General Fusion as a panellist at this year’s conference.  Read the full conference agenda here.

photo courtesy of generalfusion.com

photo courtesy of generalfusion.com

For decades, nuclear fusion has been touted as tomorrow’s source of energy, but has always seemed to be decades away from real-world application.   But with exciting new technologies and a growing concern for climate change, a handful of companies including General Fusion are working to crack the fusion riddle.  The founder, Dr. Michel Laberge realized that Magnetized Target Fusion, with the aid of modern electronics, materials, and advances in plasma physics, could provide a faster, lower cost, and more practical path to fusion power:

“MTF’s advantages stem from its hybrid nature. MTF uses some magnetic field to confine the plasma, allowing for slower compression using mechanical systems. Magnetic fields in MTF are short-lived, avoiding complex plasma sustainment technologies.  By comparison, Inertial Confinement’s fast compression requires high power lasers. Magnetic Confinement’s long plasma life requires massive superconducting magnets, particle beams, and exotic materials.” (source: generalfusion.com) 
Below is an animation of the General Fusion reactor system.
The Future of Nuclear team is looking forward to hearing insights on fusion technology and the future of nuclear energy from Michael Delage at the conference, to be held October 9 at MaRS Discovery District, Toronto, Canada.  
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To learn more about the event and to register, visit the link below:
https://futureofnuclear2013.eventbrite.com

 

Toronto hosts first Future of Nuclear conference

The first Future of Nuclear conference is to be held in Toronto, Ontario.

The Province of Ontario is home to thousands of professionals working in the field of nuclear energy, many universities that provide courses in nuclear engineering, and several operating reactors. In addition, Ontario is currently planning a refurbishment of the Darlington Nuclear Generation Station, and is in the process of reviewing Ontario’s Long-Term Energy Plan.  Ontario’s capital, Toronto, is the ideal location to hold the first Future of Nuclear conference.

The conference will be held July 9, 2013 at MaRS discovery district, located blocks away from the University of Toronto, the Queen’s Park Provincial Parliament buildings, and Toronto’s financial district.

Click here to learn more about the event.