Provincial energy minister Dwight Duncan has directed the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) to proceed with its recommended 20-year electricity supply mix plan, which includes a significant increase in nuclear generation and a shift away from coal.
Under the terms of the plan nuclear generation will be limited to 14,000MWe although the government has directed Ontario Power Generation (OPG) to begin a federal approvals process, including feasibility studies for refurbishing four units at the Pickering B and Darlington sites. OPG has also been directed to begin the work needed for an environmental assessment for the construction of new units at an existing nuclear facility.
The plan also sets targets that aim to double energy efficiency to reduce electricity demand by 6300MWe by 2025 and to double the amount of energy from renewables by 2025 to 15,700MWe.
Nonetheless, a recent Independent Electricity System Operator report indicates 2500-3000MWe of additional capacity is required to maintain system reliability, a situation which has forced the government to postpone plans to phase out coal-fired capacity and replace it with cleaner sources of energy, on the basis that natural gas should only be used to meet peak demand.
Although Ontario has five nuclear stations with a total installed capacity of 14,000MWe, only 11,400MWe is currently operational. The government has contracted with Bruce Power to refurbish and return to service 1540MWe at two units at the Bruce A plant, bringing in-service nuclear capacity up to approximately 13,000 MW by 2009.
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