By: Donald Jones, retired nuclear industry engineer, 2019 April 9
The raw performance data for 2018 are taken from the Power Reactor Information System (PRIS) database of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Note that the Load Factor term used in the PRIS database has the same meaning as Capacity Factor (CF). CFs are based on the (net) Reference Unit Power and on the (net) Electricity Supplied, as defined in the PRIS database. For Ontario, at least, the Energy Availability Factor in the PRIS database can be read as the Unit Capability Factor (reference 1). For some unknown reason PRIS database had no data on Darlington unit 1 for 2018.
The performance of some of Ontario’s nuclear generating stations is affected by the surplus baseload generation (SBG) in the province. Some nuclear units saw electricity output reductions during periods of surplus baseload generation (SBG). This means the CFs are not a true performance indicator for those units (reference 2). A better metric of performance in these cases would be the Unit Capability Factor (UCF – used by Ontario Power Generation and by Bruce Power). The Energy Availability Factor (EAF) is another performance indicator and is shown in the PRIS database. The EAF adjusts the available energy generation for energy losses attributed to plant management, planned and unplanned, and for external energy losses beyond the control of plant management while the UCF only includes energy losses attributed to plant management and excludes the external losses beyond control of plant management like load cycling/load following, grid failures, earthquakes, cooling water temperature higher than reference temperature, floods, lightning strikes, labour disputes outside the plant etc.
For Ontario there should be little significant difference between CF, UCF and EAF for units that do not load cycle (an external energy loss) since other external energy losses will be close to zero. For units that load cycle the UCF will be higher than the EAF and higher than the CF but the EAF should not be significantly different from the CF. For example, going back to 2017 PRIS data, Bruce B unit 7 had a 2017 annual CF of 92.8 percent and an EAF of 96.3 percent. However based on what was just said above this EAF of 96.3 percent must really be a UCF of 96.3 percent and this anomaly will apply to all EAFs given in this article.The UCF and the EAF are based on reference ambient conditions so, unlike the CF, they cannot exceed 100 percent. In some cases the CF can be more than the EAF because the cooling water temperature is lower than the reference temperature and that increases the electrical output of the unit.
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