Ontario explores possibility of new, large scale nuclear plants

TORONTO — Ontario is exploring the possibility of building new large-scale nuclear power plants to meet growing electricity demand and to phase out natural gas power generation.

A report late last year by the Independent Electricity System Operator said the state could completely eliminate natural gas from its electricity system by 2050, starting with a 2027 moratorium, but that would require about $400 billion in capital expenditures and new, A large nuclear power plant.

In addition to new nuclear power, decarbonizing the electricity grid will require more conservation efforts, more renewable energy sources and more energy storage, the report concludes.

IESO needs to assess the reliability of new technologies and fuels to replace natural gas and begin work now to install new large-scale power generation sources such as nuclear power plants and hydroelectric facilities. said.

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The ministry has not committed to a moratorium or phase-out of natural gas or to build new nuclear facilities other than the small modular reactor program, but is currently discussing its prospects.

A recently posted document in the government’s environmental registry seeks input on how best to involve the public and indigenous communities in the planning and location of new power generation and storage facilities.

Building a new nuclear power plant is “one way” towards a fully electrified system, Energy Minister Todd Smith said in an interview.

“It’s certainly possible, so we’re looking for feedback from Ontarians,” he said. “We are considering all the next steps.”

Environmental groups such as Environmental Defense oppose the construction of new nuclear facilities as well as the continued dependence on natural gas.

“The IESO report touts the continued use of natural gas under the guise of a decarbonization plan and assumes an increase in gas production, which will continue to rely on gas-produced electricity through 2050, but this is embarrassingly slow,” said Lana Goldberg, Ontario Climate Program Manager for Environmental Defense.

“Building new nuclear power plants is silly when there are safer and much cheaper alternatives, such as wind and solar power.”

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The IESO says the flexibility offered by natural gas is necessary to maintain system stability, but new, relatively untested technologies are being explored and new infrastructure is being built. However, in some cases, a power supply crisis is imminent.

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Ontario is facing a power shortage, with nuclear plants slated for decommissioning, others being retrofitted, electric vehicles, new electric vehicle and battery manufacturing, electric arc furnaces for steelmaking, greenhouses and demand from growth in the mining industry, etc.

The government consultation also asks whether there should be “additional investments” in clean energy in the short term to reduce reliance on natural gas.

But Smith has indicated that the government isn’t keen on higher costs.

“We’re not going to sacrifice reliability and affordability,” he said. “We need reliable and affordable systems, otherwise people will not go electrified.”

The previous Liberal government faced widespread outrage over high hydroelectric bills. This was often emphasized by the Progressive Conservative Party, then in opposition, partly due to long-term contracts at above-market rates with clean power producers secured to facilitate the transition to green energy. was driven by

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The current government talks are open until May 14.

© 2023 The Canadian Press

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