In a bold move to meet the province’s escalating electricity demand and fuel its robust economic growth, the Ontario government has initiated preliminary work for its first large-scale nuclear build in over 30 years.
Bruce Power LP will be leading the project and is set to start community consultations and conduct an environmental assessment. This will pave the way for federal approval and assess the feasibility of siting up to 4,800 megawatts (MW) of new nuclear generation at its current location.
“Our government’s open-for-business approach has led to unprecedented investments across the province, from electric vehicles and battery manufacturing to critical minerals to green steel,” Minister of Energy Todd Smith said in a statement on Tuesday.
“With our plan already in place to meet demand this decade, we are starting the pre-development work to identify future generation options, including reliable, affordable and clean nuclear energy, that will power our province into the future.”
— Ontario Energy (@ONenergy) July 6, 2023
Ontario is witnessing a surge in electricity demand for the first time since 2005
As the province gears up to meet the escalating demand over the next decade, experts from the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) have advised the initiation of planning, siting and environmental assessment for long-lead assets, including nuclear power.
This is in anticipation of the increasing electricity demand in the 2030s and beyond, driven by robust economic growth, electrification and population expansion.
The IESO’s report suggests that Ontario’s electricity generation capacity may need to double from 42,000 MW to 88,000 MW by 2050, potentially requiring an additional 17,800 MW of nuclear power.
To meet this demand, Ontario is investing in clean energy storage, energy efficiency programs and nuclear power, including the construction of Canada’s first grid-scale Small Modular Reactor.
The Bruce Nuclear Generating Station, the world’s largest, can produce 6,550 MW of electricity. Bruce Power is the only non-government nuclear power-plant operator in Canada, and is owned by Cameco Corp., TransCanada Corp., a unit of the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System, the Power Workers’ Union and the Society of Energy Professionals.
“Nuclear power has been the stable backbone of Ontario’s clean electricity system for decades and Bruce Power is ready to play an integral role in addressing the province’s future needs while supporting good jobs and economic prosperity for the future,” President and CEO of Bruce Power Mike Rencheck said.
“We are starting the federal Impact Assessment process to look at new nuclear generation on our site now, to maximize the future optionality for clean electricity in the province.”
Nuclear power supplies about 50 per cent of Ontario’s electricity.
Securing federal approval marks the initial phase in a comprehensive process to approve and construct new nuclear power generation projects, a process that could span a decade or more.
The aim is to pinpoint and emphasize opportunities to streamline inefficiencies and reduce duplication in major federal project reviews. This will expedite the construction of clean energy projects and subsequently lower emissions.
By kickstarting this early planning, the province ensures the availability of a reliable, cost-effective and clean energy option.
This will power the next significant international investment, accommodate the energy needs of new homes being built in the province and support the growth and electrification of industries and sectors across Ontario.