Ontario Nuclear Update - September 29th, 2022

OVERKILL

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Today I was at Pickering Nuclear Generating station with a few of my co-conspirators as the Energy Minister announced further life extension for Pickering, through to September of 2026, which was nice to hear, but the big news:

The Ontario government has directed OPG to perform a feasibility study on the refurbishment and continued operation of Pickering B, which could see the plant run through to 2075.

Official link to OPG's news:

And a quote:
The Province has also asked OPG to conduct a feasibility assessment on the potential for refurbishing Units 5 – 8. Over the next year, we will conduct a comprehensive technical examination and hope to submit a final recommendation to the Province by the end of 2023.

In 2009, OPG reviewed the environmental and safety case for refurbishing Units 5 – 8, and although there was community support for the refurbishment, a decision was made to not pursue the project due to the challenging economics, stagnant electricity demand, and anticipated supply chain issues and costs.

We have learned a lot about refurbishment since 2009 and through our Darlington project, which remains on time and on budget, and will apply these learnings to our feasibility assessment of Pickering.

The government used many of the talking points from our report, which felt really good to hear them embrace.

While it's a bit too early to truly celebrate this as a total victory (we need to wait for the assessment and the work to commence), the fact that this is even being considered now is a victory, as we'd previously been told that OPG had "moved on" from Pickering.

The mood at the plant is predictably elevated as the news of its continued operation and potential refurbishment spread.

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OVERKILL

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Very, very cool. The world leaders in nuclear power are not the USA or China, but Canada.

Meanwhile, we here in the USA are deforesting the deep-South to make wood pellets to fuel European power plants.
The current Ontario government, and our big nuclear operators, OPG and Bruce Power are both VERY bullish on nuclear. OPG wants to backstop our electrification with firm, reliable power from Darlington and Pickering (and of course Bruce) while they build new SMR's to deal with increasing demand. We may also see new build CANDU's, there have been grumblings.
 

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Mankind had better come to love the atom, as there is no other viable, long term solution. Period, end of story. With nuclear power, we really can do everything we need, including pulling carbon dioxide from the atmosphere if we so desire. Not to mention high volume desalination, inexpensive and reliable power for everyone, producing hydrogen and hydrocarbon fuels for portable needs and more.
 
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Mankind had better come to love the atom, as there is no other viable, long term solution. Period, end of story. With nuclear power, we really can do everything we need, including pulling carbon dioxide from the atmosphere if we so desire. Not to mention high volume desalination, inexpensive and reliable power for everyone, producing hydrogen and hydrocarbon fuels for portable needs and more.
There's not enough uranium and the US would need to at least double the number of reactors. The ain't gonna happen. Not with limited sites, NIMBY, cost to ratepayers, and zero tolerance for accidents.

My rates went up 12‰ this month because a new reactor came online.
 

OVERKILL

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There's not enough uranium and the US would need to at least double the number of reactors. The ain't gonna happen. Not with limited sites, NIMBY, cost to ratepayers, and zero tolerance for accidents.
There's more than enough uranium. It's a bit like fossil fuels, we just keep finding more. Your neighbour to the north has the richest uranium deposits on the planet, but we only provide you with 15% of your uranium. The largest source is Kazakhstan, though the largest known reserves are in Australia.

Your subsequent points are more germane, and that is that NIMBY's and site licensing makes expanding new nuclear extremely difficult. Probably the most viable option is re-powering coal plants with higher temp SMR's.
My rates went up 12‰ this month because a new reactor came online.
Vogtle has not yet come online, and none of that cost has yet to be shifted to ratepayers, which will only happen once the plant is active.

Southern Company said:
Significant progress continues to be made at the Vogtle 3 & 4 nuclear expansion site with Unit 3 direct construction approximately 99% complete and the total project approximately 96% complete. Georgia Power currently projects a Unit 3 in-service date in either the fourth quarter of 2022 or first quarter 2023. Unit 4 is projected to be complete in either the third or fourth quarter of 2023.
 
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There's more than enough uranium. It's a bit like fossil fuels, we just keep finding more. Your neighbour to the north has the richest uranium deposits on the planet, but we only provide you with 15% of your uranium. The largest source is Kazakhstan, though the largest known reserves are in Australia.

Your subsequent points are more germane, and that is that NIMBY's and site licensing makes expanding new nuclear extremely difficult. Probably the most viable option is re-powering coal plants with higher temp SMR's.

Vogtle has not yet come online, and none of that cost has yet to be shifted to ratepayers, which will only happen once the plant is active.
I've read that the world would need 15,000 reactors and there's insufficient uranium to power them all. Of course this extraction is based on the current cost. It only gets more expensive once the low hanging fruit has been mined


As for the rate increases, ya I misspoke.
GA Power is asking for a 12 percent increase in addition for the increase once the reactors come online.
 

OVERKILL

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I've read that the world would need 15,000 reactors and there's insufficient uranium to power them all. Of course this extraction is based on the current cost. It only gets more expensive once the low hanging fruit has been mined
The low hanging fruit hasn't been mined. We keep finding more, and even richer, deposits here in Canada. There's a LOT of uranium, but, with current demand, exploration is slow because we have so much of it already.

Beyond that, there is seawater extraction, which is essentially infinite.

On the other hand, many of the new reactor designs will run on existing spent fuel stores, and there are of course breeder reactors which produce fuel for conventional reactors, using spent fuel, closing the fuel cycle. Two of those operate in Russia, India has one, China has one, and is bringing another online shortly.

France of course actively reprocesses their own spent nuclear fuel, as well as nuclear fuel from all over the world including Japan. This reprocessed fuel then goes right back into the reactor.

This is a complex topic and most people, unless they are an enthusiast, don't know much about it.
As for the rate increases, ya I misspoke.
GA Power is asking for a 12 percent increase in addition for the increase once the reactors come online.
Yes, that sounds more consistent with what we were expecting.

The new New Jersey offshore wind farm is actually more expensive (for its CAPEX relative to output) than Vogtle:

Half the capacity, half the output (roughly) with 1/4 the lifespan for $5.3 billion. An initial rate paid to the facility of $0.0981/kWh, rising by 2% yearly, over the 20-year planned life the facility. Yet, amusingly, this is not facing any of the same sort of dragging in the news like Vogtle is, lol.
 
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While this article is more than a bit basic, it highlights the reality we face.

Quote:

"Breeder reactors can power all of humanity for more than 4 billion years. By any reasonable definition, nuclear breeder reactors are indeed renewable. However, benefiting from this billion-year sustainability requires improvements in reactor construction performance and public acceptance. We have developed and proven breeder reactors in the past, but they remain a small minority of our current fleet."

 

OVERKILL

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While this article is more than a bit basic, it highlights the reality we face.

Quote:

"Breeder reactors can power all of humanity for more than 4 billion years. By any reasonable definition, nuclear breeder reactors are indeed renewable. However, benefiting from this billion-year sustainability requires improvements in reactor construction performance and public acceptance. We have developed and proven breeder reactors in the past, but they remain a small minority of our current fleet."

Yep, here's an article on the Chinese one (a bit old) that talks about the concerns of nations like China operate breeders:

Russia operates both the BN-800:

And the BN-600:

The Indian one is supposed to come online this month:
 

OVERKILL

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Update on this, Pickering is currently undergoing a vacuum building outage, which means all units are offline. They will start to come back this week as the outage completes. This is an important milestone. These outages are done once every 12 years and the vacuum building is an integral and critical component of our CANDU defence at depth safety system, which allows these units to be operating so close to urban centres. The vacuum building health assessment being good news will be a positive result for the impending Pickering B refurbishment project.

You can see the vacuum building situated below and between Pickering A units 1 and 2 here:
Screen Shot 2022-10-30 at 1.55.26 PM.jpg


Pickering A is still slated to be retired in 2024, as only units 1 (the one with the white cap) and 4 (far left) are active.
 
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It's always good to learn generating units are being refurbished for the future. I think the US is making a mistake retiring coal fired units early. Wind and solar is not going to cut it folks.
 
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