October 10, 2013
If not new nuclear plants, what’s Ontario plan?
What will power Ontario’s electricity system if the role of nuclear power shrinks?
If the Ontario government has ruled out building new nuclear plants and coal plants — and if natural gas-fired plants are political poison — what’s left for Ontario?
The Liberal government confirmed Thursday that it has scrapped the proposal to spend more than $10 billion to build two new nuclear reactors at the Darlington power station — a decision that knocks 2,000 planned megawatts out of the power supply.
Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli said the government is, however, committed to refurbishing the existing Darlington nuclear station, which supplies about 20 per cent of Ontario’s electricity.
The amount of power knocked out of the supply is significant: Ontario needed about 18,000 megawatts of power on Thursday, a day with moderate weather. On a very hot or cold day, it can need up to 25,000 megawatts.
In addition, the existing Pickering nuclear station, which generates about 3,000 megawatts of power, is due to close at the end of the decade.
Not building the new reactors, while shutting down Pickering, will be a real shrinkage in the role of nuclear energy, which now supplies about half the province’s power.
And it sharpens the question: What’s next?
The Liberals have been far more definitive about what they’ve ruled out that what they’ve ruled in.
Ontario will also close the last of its coal-fired generating plants by the end of 2014, fulfilling a promise made in 2003. Their role has been shrinking: They now supply only about 3 per cent of the province’s power.
And the billion-dollar decision to relocate gas plants from Mississauga and Oakville will make it harder to build new gas generators.
So what are the alternatives?