Canada’s Bruce Power plans to launch a Request for Information (RFI) process in early 2024 to evaluate potential new nuclear technologies as part of its preliminary engagement and long-term review of expanding nuclear generation at the Bruce Power site. An Advisory Panel including business, industry and labour leadership has been established to review the critical areas of economic development and partnerships, supply chain and workforce in the long-term outlook for Ontario’s nuclear sector.

The eight pressurised heavy-water Candu reactor units at the Bruce site (Bruce A – units 1-4, and Bruce B – units 4-8) began commercial operation between 1977 and 1987. Bruce Power’s CAD13bn ($10bn) Life Extension Programme, which includes Asset Management and Major Component Replacement (MCR), began in 2016. MCR, which started with unit 6 and also includes units 3-8, will extend the life of the site until 2064. Units 1&2 have already been refurbished and were returned to service in 2012. Unit 6 returned to service in September. Work began on unit 3 in March and progressing on schedule using innovation and efficiencies gained in unit 6.

Bruce Power President & CEO Mike Rencheck said, looking ahead and evaluating the potential for new nuclear capacity creates a valuable option for Ontario in future electricity planning. “We will carry out this evaluation with a focus on Indigenous and community engagement, a comprehensive technology review and exploring economic development, supply chain and workforce opportunities.”

Bruce Power’s approach to supporting the role of the site in the Powering Ontario’s Growth plan will be based on five principles:

  • To extend the operation of the eight Bruce Power operating units to continue producing clean energy and cancer-fighting isotopes through 2064 and beyond.
  • Through the Life-Extension Programme and Project 2030 investments, to increase net peak output of the existing units to 7,000 MWe for the 2030s – equivalent to adding a large-scale reactor with current infrastructure.
  • To pursue an Impact Assessment (IA) as a planning tool to evaluate the potential for an additional 4,800 MW at the Bruce Power site and commit to open and transparent engagement with Indigenous communities, the local tri-county region and the public prior to any decision-making.
  • To undertake a robust technology review process to provide sound guidance for potential future decisions and milestones.
  • To position economic development/partnerships, localisation, supply chain and workforce development as key priorities in development, especially in rural communities.

With the company’s MCR projects progressing successfully, on budget and on schedule, the Bruce Power site was selected for a new build evaluation in July as part of the Powering Ontario’s Growth plan. This was based on the company’s strong track-record as Canada’s largest private investor in nuclear technology, its excellent safety record, a large geographic site with multiple existing transmission corridors and the cost-competitive, reliable and clean supply of electricity that Bruce Power nuclear generation provides.

Through the RFI process, Bruce Power says it is taking a prudent step to further evaluate nuclear technologies. Bruce Power is undertaking technology evaluation in parallel with the IA process, which will use a technology neutral approach, to consider multiple nuclear technologies and provide options to the province in long-term electricity system planning.

“With our plan already in place to meet demand this decade, we are working with Bruce Power to start pre-development work that will support future generation options, including reliable, affordable and clean nuclear energy, that will power our province into the future,” said Todd Smith, Ontario’s Minister of Energy. “I’m pleased to see Bruce Power taking this prudent step to evaluate nuclear technologies that demonstrate value for ratepayers, have the greatest potential to stimulate the Ontario economy and that can be constructed within a timeline that meets Ontario’s clean electricity demands.”

Bruce Power is also collaborating with Ontario Power Generation (OPG) and the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) to develop a feasibility study for potential future nuclear generation elsewhere in Ontario, that will leverage information from the RFI. The feasibility study will be completed by the end of 2024.

 Bruce Power’s Advisory Panel that will consist of:

  • Marc Arsenault, Business Manager -The Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario
  • Guy Lonechild – President & CEO, First Nations Power Authority
  • Jeff Beach – President & CEO, Asthma Canada
  • Michelle Branigan – CEO, Electricity Human Resources Canada
  • Dennis Darby, President & CEO, Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters
  • Michelle Johnston, President, Society of United Professionals
  • Jessica Linthorne, COO, Nuclear Innovation Institute
  • Jeff Parnell, President, Power Workers’ Union
  • Daniel Tisch, Incoming CEO of Ontario Chamber of Commerce
  • Bill Walker, President, Organisation of Canadian Nuclear Industries
  • Terry Young, former interim President & CEO, IESO

Bruce Power notes that exploring the advancement of large new nuclear for the first time in a generation is an undertaking that requires long-term planning, open and transparent engagement with Indigenous communities and the broader region. It also needs a robust process building on lessons learned from the Life-Extension programme and the last 20 years of worldwide GEN3+ nuclear power plant construction before any decision is made to proceed.

Image: Todd Smith, Ontario's Minister of Energy (courtesy of Bruce Power)