Canada

The 1970s and 1980s were prolific times for the Canadian nuclear industry. A total of 23 reactors were constructed with a total capacity of over 15,000 MW of electrical power – approximately 20% of Canada’s demand at that time. Interestingly, the 1990s saw a dramatic decrease in the growth of electricity demand, resulting in a veritable halt in the construction of any additional Canadian nuclear generating facilities. The arrival of the new millennium however, has brought with it a renewed enthusiasm, a renaissance for nuclear energy as an economically viable and environmentally sound piece of the puzzle to solving the world’s current energy dilemmas. With rising oil costs, growing concerns for the negative effects of greenhouse gas emissions on worldwide climate change, and a predicted doubling in world electricity consumption by 2030, nuclear power is again factoring into the planet’s energy equation.

Canadian Nuclear Power Plants
Facility
Location
Net Capacity (MWe)
Operating Status
Start Year
Bruce A: Unit 1
Kincardine, Ontario
750
Operating
1977
Bruce A: Unit 2
Kincardine, Ontario
750
Operating
1977
Bruce A: Unit 3
Kincardine, Ontario
750
Operating
1978
Bruce A: Unit 4
Kincardine, Ontario
750
Operating
1979
Bruce B: Unit 1
Kincardine, Ontario
817
Operating
1985
Bruce B: Unit 2
Kincardine, Ontario
817
Operating
1984
Bruce B: Unit 3
Kincardine, Ontario
817
Operating
1986
Bruce B: Unit 4
Kincardine, Ontario
817
Operating
1987
Darlington: Unit 1
Darlington, Ontario
881
Operating
1992
Darlington: Unit 2
Darlington, Ontario
881
Operating
1990
Darlington: Unit 3
Darlington, Ontario
881
Operating
1993
Darlington: Unit 4
Darlington, Ontario
881
Operating
1993
Gentilly-1
Gentilly, Quebec
250
Shut down
197?
Gentilly-2
Gentilly, Quebec
675
Shut down
1982
Pickering A: Unit 1
Pickering, Ontario
515
Operating
1971
Pickering A: Unit 2
Pickering, Ontario
515
Shut down
197?
Pickering A: Unit 3
Pickering, Ontario
515
Shut down
197?
Pickering A: Unit 4
Pickering, Ontario
515
Operating
1973
Pickering B: Unit 1
Pickering, Ontario
516
Operating
1983
Pickering B: Unit 2
Pickering, Ontario
516
Operating
1984
Pickering B: Unit 3
Pickering, Ontario
516
Operating
1985
Pickering B: Unit 4
Pickering, Ontario
516
Operating
1986
Point Lepreau
Point Lepreau, New Brunswick
680
Operating
1983

Nuclear Power in Ontario

Based on the confidence gained by the successes of the Douglas Point reactor, Ontario Hydro (now Ontario Power Generation) committed to the construction of four reactors at Pickering, about 32 km east of Toronto on the shore of Lake Ontario. These reactors, at what is known as Station A, came online between 1971 and 1973 with capacities of 540 MW each. From 1983 to 1985, Ontario Hydro brought four more similar reactors online at the Pickering site in Station B; adjacent to Station A. The electricity generated by these eight reactors when all were in operation (Pickering A unit 2 and 3 are being placed in safe storage in 2008) is about double the electricity generation of the Sir Adam Beck Hydroelectric Generating Station (2,338 MW) at Niagara Falls.

Bruce Power Nuclear Generating Station

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With Ontario’s burgeoning appetite for electrical power during the industrial growth of the 1970s and 1980s, the need arose for additional nuclear power reactors to be constructed.  From 1977 to 1979, Ontario Hydro brought four 905 MW reactors online in Station A at the Bruce Nuclear Power Development site on Lake Huron about 250 km northwest of Toronto. From 1984 to 1987, four more 915 MW reactors came into operation at Bruce Station B bringing the combined capability of the facility to over 7,000 MW of electricity. The Bruce site, is the largest nuclear power station in North America and the second largest in the world next to Japan.

Today the Bruce Station is operated by a private sector company called Bruce Power which is undertaking a major refurbishment of Bruce A reactors 1 and 2 which are due online in 2011.

Pickering Nuclear Generating Station
Pickering Nuclear Generating Station.

Started during the high-demand era in 1977, four more 935 MW reactors were constructed at Darlington, about 70 km east of Toronto on the shores of Lake Ontario and came online from 1990 to 1993. The construction of Darlington was plagued with delays and numerous starts and stops to the project schedule due to a number of factors including political interference by three separate Ontario governments. Once online, the Darlington facility contributed an additional 3,740 MW of electric power to Ontario’s total electricity generation. In 2009, nuclear power generated 55.2% of Ontario’s power.

Darlington Nuclear Generating Station
Darlington Nuclear Generating Station.

In 2008, the Government of Ontario announced its approval of the construction of two new nuclear reactors at the Darlington site. On June 29, 2009 the Government of Ontario suspended the request for proposals process, but the federal approvals process for the reactor project is continuing.  Darlington is expected to get two new reactors due online in 2018.

Nuclear Power in Quebec

In 1971, the 250 MW Gentilly-1, a prototype reactor, came into operation near
Trois-Rivières on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River. Built and owned by Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL, now Canadian Nuclear Laboratories) and operated by Hydro-Québec staff, the reactor had design and operational problems and was not economical. It was taken out of service in 1979. Quebec has only one nuclear power station in operation: Gentilly-2, owned by Hydro-Québec. Equipped with a 675 MW CANDU 6 reactor, the plant was constructed on the same site a Gentilly-1 and came into commercial operation in 1983.

Gentilly-2

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Nuclear Power in New Brunswick

New Brunswick was Canada’s third province to produce electricity using nuclear energy. In 1983 a 680 MW CANDU 6 reactor came online at Point Lepreau on the Bay of Fundy.  With a considerably smaller population base than Ontario or Quebec, the single reactor facility at Point Lepreau is capable of producing nearly one third of New Brunswick’s electrical power. In March 2008, the process of refurbishing the Point Lepreau reactor began. It is due back online in 2011.

As a whole, CANDU have been among the top performing reactors in the world. Their ability to fuel online enables them to reduce the amount of down time of the reactor, compared to light water reactors (LWR). The older generation reactors typically run at 80% of capacity, whereas the older LWRs were typically down for maintenance or fuelling nearly half the time. The newer generation CANDU reactors project a capacity factor of 90%, however, improved LWRs have a similar capacity factor.

Point Lepreau

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