The Ontario government is supporting a plan to extend operations at Pickering Nuclear Generating Station.
Ontario Power Generation (OPG) is currently seeking the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission’s (CNSC) approval to continue operating Pickering’s Units 5 through 8 through the end of September 2026. Units 1 and 4 would retire at the end of 2024 as planned.
Further operations at Pickering beyond September 2026 would require a complete refurbishment. The Ontario government said it asked OPG to conduct a feasibility study on the potential for refurbishing Units 5 through 8. OPG said it hoped to submit a final recommendation to the province by the end of 2023.
The last feasibility study was conducted between 2006 and 2009. OPG said while there was support for the refurbishment at that time, it didn’t happen because of challenging economics, stagnant electricity demand and anticipated supply chain issues and costs.
Refurbishment could allow the facility to operate an additional 30 years, OPG said.
Pickering is one of the larger nuclear stations in the world and has six operating CANDU nuclear reactors, with an output totaling 3,100 MW when all units are online. Two non-operating units are currently shut down in safe storage. Units 5-8 were commissioned between 1983 and 1986, while the first four units were commissioned in the 1970s.
Two of Ontario’s nuclear plants, Darlington and Bruce, are progressing through their refurbishments at the same time.
The ten-year, multi-billion-dollar Darlington nuclear power plant refurbishment for OPG just crossed the halfway point. Refurbishment work on the four nuclear reactors at Darlington began in October 2016.
“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,” said the power utility in a release.
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