Ontario Power Generation has passed the midway point in its C$12.8 billion (about $10 billion) Darlington nuclear plant refurbishment project with the start of work on Unit 1, the company has announced. The unit is expected to be ready for grid reconnection in the second quarter of 2025.
Darlington houses four 878-MWe CANDU pressurized heavy water reactors, all of which entered commercial operation in the early 1990s. The plant is located in Clarington, Ontario, Canada.
The 10-year refurbishment project—the planning for which also took 10 years—began in earnest in October 2016, when Unit 2 was taken off line. That unit was returned to service in June 2020, and in September 2020, Unit 3 entered refurbishment. Currently, Unit 3 is in the midst of reassembly.
Refurbishing work on Unit 4 is scheduled to commence in the third quarter of 2023 and be completed in the fourth quarter of 2026.
Following completion of the project, Darlington will be capable of producing its emissions-free electricity for an additional 30-plus years, according to OPG.
Why it matters: According to an independent report by the Conference Board of Canada, the Darlington refurbishment project and potential 30 additional years of plant operation are expected to generate a total of C$89.9 billion (about $70.7 billion) in economic benefits for Ontario, create 14,200 jobs per year, and boost personal income by an average of C$1.6 billion (about $1.25 billion) on an annual basis.
Further, an independent report prepared by Intrinsik Environmental Sciences calculated that the continued operation of the plant to 2055 would take the equivalent of two million cars off Ontario’s roads per year by avoiding significant greenhouse gas emissions.
What they’re saying: “The refurbishment team’s successful track record on Units 2 and 3, combined with detailed planning for Unit 1, position us well for continued success,” said Subo Sinnathamby, OPG senior vice president of nuclear refurbishment. “Continuous learning and working as a team with our vendor partners and Bruce Power have been key to our success to date. We continue to apply innovations and lessons learned to ensure even better performance as we move forward through this project.”
“Refurbishing Darlington Nuclear Generating Station is key to OPG’s Climate Change Plan,” added Ken Hartwick, OPG president and chief executive officer. “This safe, clean energy workhorse generates over 20 percent of Ontario’s electricity without greenhouse gas or carbon emissions each year. Thanks to this mid-life overhaul, Darlington will continue to cleanly power Ontario’s homes, hospitals, and businesses for decades to come.”