The first of 6,240 fuel bundles have been loaded into unit 2 at Ontario Power Generation's (OPG’s) Darlington NPP, the company said on 12 November. Darlington 2 is the first of the site's four Candu reactors to undergo refurbishment as part of a CAD12.8 billion ($9 billion) project scheduled for completion in 2026. OPG reported net income attributable to the shareholder of $319 million for the third quarter of 2019, compared with $279 million for the same quarter of 2018. Ken Hartwick, OPG President and CEO said: "Our strong financial results for the quarter once again demonstrate the high quality performance across our fleet. Within our nuclear fleet, we have seen unprecedented levels of uninterrupted generation, continuing to provide the people of Ontario with clean, reliable energy every day."
The Darlington Refurbishment project reached its third anniversary in October. "As we mark this important milestone on the 10-year Darlington Refurbishment project, we remain focused on delivering Canada's largest clean energy project on time, and on budget," said Hartwick. He added that he refurbishment of unit 2 is 90% completed, “including the completion of lower feeders and the commencement of reloading fuel into the reactor in preparation for the return to service”.
The Darlington Refurbishment project is expected to extend the operating life of the four-unit Darlington NPP by at least 30 years. The unit 2 refurbishment has substantially completed the third major segment, the installation and reassembly of reactor components, which included the installation of fuel channel assemblies and installation of new feeder tubes. During the third quarter, work progressed on the Lower Feeder installation series and was completed in October 2019. The Lower Body Tubing installation series is expected to start in the fourth quarter of 2019, and its completion will represent the end of the unit 2 third major refurbishment segment. The fourth major segment, the return to service of the unit, began in November 2019 with the commencement of fuel loading into the reactor. Unit 2 is expected to return to service in the second quarter of 2020, following the safe completion of commissioning activities. The Darlington Refurbishment project, the execution of which began in 2016, continues to track on schedule overall and to the CAD12.8 billion budget.
OPG is also pressing ahead with plans for the refurbishment of unit 3, incorporating the experience learned at unit 2. After considering the optimisation of resources being engaged in returning unit 2 to service, the unit 3 refurbishment is now targeted to begin in the second quarter of 2020, reflecting a coordinated effort between the project and operations teams. As of 30 September, CAD437 million has been invested in planning and prerequisite activities related to the unit 3 refurbishment. Total life-to-date expenditures on the project were approximately CAD6.4 billion as at September 30, 2019.
OPG said net income for the third quarter of 2019 was favourably impacted by a decrease in overall outage days at the Pickering and Darlington NPPs, compared with the same quarter in 2018. Higher nuclear electricity generation of 1.0 TWh and 3.1 TWh during the three and nine month periods ended 30 September, compared with the same periods in 2018, was primarily due to fewer outage days at the Pickering and Darlington plants.
For the third quarter of 2019, the unit capability factor for the operating units at the Darlington was 91.1%, compared to 91.7% for the same quarter in 2018. For the nine months ended 30 September, the unit capability factor for the operating units at Darlington was 86.5%, compared with 85.2% for the same period in 2018. OPG said the factors were comparable in both the three and nine month periods, in line with the similar number of overall outage days at the station in both periods. For the third quarter of 2019, overall outage days for the units decreased to 28 days from 30 days for the same quarter in 2018. For the nine month period, overall outage days decreased to 114 days from 129 days for the same period in 2018.
At the Pickering NPP, the unit capability factor increased to 94.3% and 89.1% for the three and nine month periods ended 30 September, compared to 87.9% and 77.9% for the same periods in 2018. The increase in both periods was due to fewer overall outage days at the station. For the third quarter of 2019, overall outage days for the six Pickering units decreased to 35 days from 98 days for the same quarter in 2018. For the nine month period ended September 30, 2019, overall outage days decreased to 182 days from 393 days for the same period in 2018.