No more nuclear can mean more wind in Ontario – gazing into the crystal ball

October 28, 2013

By: Donald Jones, P.Eng., retired nuclear industry engineer – 2013 October.

With nuclear new build in Ontario no longer part of the Ontario government’s Long-Term Energy Plan (LTEP), at least for the moment, there could be more unneeded expensive wind on the way (reference 1). With the refurbishment of Darlington starting in 2016 (reference 2) and continuing past 2020 when Pickering will close and Bruce A and B units will start their refurbishment there will be a shortfall in supply that will have to made up by new gas-fired generation. This new generation will be over and above the supply from the cancelled Oakville and Mississauga combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) units that were relocated to property near Lennox and Lambton generating stations respectively. The additional gas-fired generation will produce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that will need additional wind generation, over the amount in the present LTEP, in an attempt to reduce these emissions – unlikely and alarmingly expensive (reference 3). The needed gas is increasingly coming from shale deposits fractured by large amounts of very high pressure water laced with special sand and toxic chemicals. This controversial frackgas has been said to have the same lifetime GHG emissions as coal.  Even the GHG emissions from combustion of gas may not be all that much better than from burning coal (reference 3) because of operational flexibility differences, and increases in gas prices are inevitable. Flexible nuclear would not produce any GHGs and would provide price stability.

After 2020 Pickering A and B will be closed. The two refurbished Pickering A units cannot run without Pickering B because of safety related electrical interconnections. Two Darlington units will be refurbished at the same time and likely at least two units from Bruce A and B. This means that about 6470 MW could be available from the operating nuclear units. On a hot summer peak demand day the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) credits hydro with around 6,000 MW for a reasonable amount of time. If there is 8,000 nameplate MW of wind by 2020 then, using the IESO capacity correction factor, we can credit wind with 1,120 MW on a peak summer day. Solar is a bit of an unknown. Even if we had around 2,000 nameplate MW by 2020 by the time the late afternoon peak rolls around this would drop, say we could credit around 200 MW. Gas and oil would be credited with 10,000 MW on a peak summer day (including the relocated Oakville and Mississauga CCGTs and Lennox). This gives a total supply of 23,790 MW.  Read the rest of this entry »