North America’s biggest nuclear plant just got bigger: good news for the planet

October 18, 2012
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The Bruce nuclear station near Tiverton Ontario will soon have an eighth operating reactor unit, and a total operating capacity of 6,300 megawatts. The refurbished CANDU unit 2, laid up since the late 1990s, began putting power into the Ontario grid at ten-thirty on Monday night. Bruce Power, the private company that runs the plant (the reactors are owned by Ontario Power Generation and leased to Bruce) has begun final commissioning of the unit. This gives the Bruce station an even bigger margin as by far the biggest nuclear plant in North America..

Unit 2 had an original nameplate capacity of 750 megawatts, though I think it will be able to generate more than that (around 787 MW, if you divide 6,300 by 8). This is zero-carbon capacity, so the return of this unit to grid service is huge good news for Ontario, Canada, and the world.

The return-to-service was greeted by a grateful Ontario energy minister Chris Bentley, who is quoted in the Bruce Power press release as saying

Bruce Power’s revitalization program is an important step towards eliminating the use of coal fired electricity by the end of 2014.

The refurbishment of this unit was performed by a crack team that has cut its teeth on some of the most intensely scrutinized infrastructure projects in Canadian history. These highly skilled and highly motivated men and women performed literally thousands of closely choreographed and mind-bendingly complex tasks, day after day over a period of years—all the while subject to close media scrutiny and unrelenting criticism from anti-nuclear environmentalists who would rather Ontario generate power with fossil fuels like natural gas.

The refurbishment team—workers and their managers—are a shining example of excellent technical planning and performance under pressure. They got it done. Olympic athletes, and the rest of us, should take inspiration from them.

5 Responses to North America’s biggest nuclear plant just got bigger: good news for the planet

  1. James Greenidge
    October 19, 2012 at 2:19 am

    Congrats all involved for this, delivering power and progress in the face of ignorance and fear! I hope the politicians there don’t shy praising and hawking the facility! They sure stoop enough for wind and solar!

    James Greenidge
    Queens NY

  2. Rae Watson
    October 19, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    Congrat’s to all involved including the thousands of women and men within the Organization of CANDU Industries (OCI) – most of whom live and work in Ontario – and who provide the goods and services that support and maintain our excellent CANDU reactors.

    A point of clarification; the four reactors at Bruce ‘Station A’ have a design/licensed capacity of 750 MWe each while the four reactors at Bruce ‘Station B’ have a design/licensed capacity of 825 MWe each. Therefore, the entire Bruce site has a licensed capacity of 6,300 MWe total that will be ‘available’ on an average basis ~90% of the time (as compared to wind generators availability of less than 30%).

    • Steve
      October 19, 2012 at 1:24 pm

      Rae, thanks for the clarification and for pointing out the availability issue, which is huge. Ontario can count on the nuclear units.

  3. October 24, 2012 at 7:40 am

    This is great news. If Ontario’s coal plants are gone by 2015 according to plan then we will certainly need the extra reliable, zero CO2 producing, base load power. Ontario has made mistakes by investing too much in renewable energy such as wind and solar but at least we have nuclear to keep us going and that is also good for our economy.

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Item 1: if Ontario did not have its nuclear generating fleet, last hour’s CO2 emissions would have been AT LEAST:

6,446 metric tons, and the CIPK would have been 381.9 grams

Item 2: Since prorogation of the Ontario legislature on October 15, 2012, provincial gas-fired generating plants have dumped this much CO2 into our air:

14,337,027 metric tons. This is a running total. Every hour, the total increases by the amount of Gas CO2 given in Table 1.

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