​From left to right: OPG President Jeff Lyash, Bruce Power President Mike Rencheck and Ontario Deputy Minister of Energy Serge Imbrogno talk about nuclear innovation and  the opportunities 
that come from a low-carbon electricity system at the CANDU Owners Group, Sept. 25 General Business Meeting.

Clean air, innovation & jobs​​

Ontario’s reliable, low-carbon electricity provides a platform for economic growth and prosperity in other 
sectors, fueled by more than 60% nuclear along with a mix of primarily hydro & renewables. Through 
continuous innovation in projects and operations, OPG and Bruce Power intend to make it so for decades to come.​

O​ntario’s electricity system, with more than 60% of generation from nuclear power, is well positioned to take the province into an era of climate-friendly economic growth, according to leaders of the province’s two nuclear operators, Bruce Power and Ontario Power Generation. 

“This is one of the lowest-carbon electricity systems in the world,” OPG President and CEO, Jeff Lyash told nuclear executives at the CANDU Owners Group (COG) General Business Meeting, Sept. 25 at the Darlington Energy Centre.

“And where does that put Ontario? It gives us the opportunity to hold on to this base to maintain that low-carbon emission and use it to decarbonize other sectors of the economy and do it cost effectively,” he said, referencing transportation and commercial sectors, in particular. 

Lyash made the remarks during a panel discussion with Bruce Power President and CEO Mike Rencheck and Ontario Deputy Minister (DM) of Energy Serge Imbrogno. The three leaders, and panel moderator, COG President and CEO Fred Dermarkar, discussed the role of nuclear in Ontario’s electricity system and the use of innovation and technology to drive improvement in nuclear projects and operations, alike.

The government’s update of Ontario’s long-term energy plan (LTEP) is anticipated for release later this fall. DM Imbrogno said, as governments worldwide seek to address climate change and develop greener economies, Ontario’s electricity mix gives the province an opportunity to lead on three fronts. 

“There’s the system benefit – as we all know, its (nuclear’s) base level power that gives us 24/7 electricity that we need. It’s got capacity. It’s got energy. It’s got everything we need,” said Imbrogno. “On the environment side, it’s essentially GHG-free so when we are trying to meet our climate change goals, it is a major player in that. And (for the economy), the supply chain is everywhere in Ontario, not just where the utilities are housed but across the province.”

From electricity to healthcare

Bruce Power’s Rencheck, highlighted crucial health benefits Ontario has achieved as a result of shutting down coal plants and moving to a cleaner generation mix.

“In 2005, there were 53 smog days. In 2014 and 2015 – zero smog days. That means kids with asthma can go out and play without having to worry about getting rushed to the hospital.”

The nuclear operators have diversified beyond electricity generation to contribute to other health-related uses of nuclear – including life-saving cancer diagnostic and treatment applications used by thousands of patients annually.

“Medical isotopes is another area of innovation. Canada is the world leader in isotope production and distribution,” Rencheck said. “These are the types of innovations our industry can deliver in addition to supplying clean, reliable, 24/7 baseload electricity.”

Refurbishment and life extension on-time, on-budget

Of course, benefits can only be achieved if Ontario’s nuclear fleet can deliver both on the current refurbishment project at OPG’s Darlington and the life extension program at Bruce Power as well as safe and efficient operations.

Refurbishment and life extension activities at both sites are tracking very well to plan -- on budget and on schedule, the leaders said. And both organizations are aggressively pursuing innovations, including artificial intelligence and improved data analysis to achieve further efficiencies in both projects and ongoing plant operation.

This kind of innovation is enabled by the government’s long-term planning and the contract Bruce Power signed with the government in 2016, said Rencheck. Both provide a stability other jurisdictions are lacking. 

Achieving excellence through collaboration

Dermarkar said, through COG, the industry has created an important foundation for success in both operations and projects. COG facilitates collaborative research, development and projects worth more than $60-million annually and manages a well-established global network of shared operating experience. 

Dermarkar pointed to Pickering Nuclear as an example of how research, collaboration and the utility’s own program efforts, collectively, have led to significant achievement in safety, cost and longevity of Canada’s oldest operating plant. Pickering, he noted, is experiencing some of its best-ever performance results.

Reflecting on the commitment by OPG and its partners across the industry to deliver on the refurbishment project at Darlington, OPG’s Lyash said Ontario has an electricity system with the capability “to generate huge amounts of energy -- cost-effectively, reliably and safely -- without GHG (greenhouse gas).”

He added, “You can take the electricity sector and use that as leverage for transportation, commercial and other companies. I don’t see how you can do that without a strong foundation in nuclear power.”  ​

Ontario's 2016 electricity supply mix​​​

Source: Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO)

​​Learn more about Ontario's nuclear p​rojects...

OPG's Darlington Refurbishment

Economic Benefit: $89.9 billion during the project and the following 30 years.

Jobs: 14,000 per year​

Bruce Power Life Extension Program

Economic Benefit: $4 billion annually

Jobs: 22,000 jobs directly and indirectly in operations plus 3,000-5,000 additionally through investment programs​​

More on innovation and refurbishment in the next COGnizant​

The CANDU Owners Group General Business Meeting provides a quarterly forum for information exchange across the CANDU nuclear industry.

In addition to the presidents and deputy minister panel, the September meeting also featured a panel of refurbishment / life extension project leaders from OPG (Mike Allen), Bruce Power (Jeff Phelps) and New Brunswick Power’s Paul Thompson.

The three project leaders provided insights on the lessons from New Brunswick’s own refurbishment as well as updates and a look forward on OPG’s refurbishment and Bruce Power’s life extension program. 

As well, GBM attendees heard how the utilities are using new technology to further safety and gain efficiencies in projects and operations.

For more coverage of the GBM and other COG and industry news, watch for the next edition of COGnizant, COG’s industry information exchange magazine, out later this fall at COGonline (for members) or the COGnizant Magazine page of​