Bruce Power expansion plans get federal funding infusion

March 1, 2024, 12:03PMNuclear News
Ontario energy minister Todd Smith (center) and Bruce Power president and CEO Mike Rencheck (right) applaud as Jonathan Wilkinson, Canadian minister of energy and natural resources, announces funding to support Bruce Power’s predevelopment work for expansion. (Photo: Bruce Power)

The Canadian government has announced up to C$50 million ($36.8 million) in funding for predevelopment work to study the feasibility of building 4,800 megawatts of new generating capacity at the Bruce nuclear power plant in Ontario.

Bruce Power currently operates eight units at the site and is Canada’s only private-sector nuclear generator. Its current combined output is 6,507 MWe.

The project, known as Bruce C, would be Canada’s first major investment in expanding a large nuclear plant in decades. Nuclear power currently accounts for about 15 percent of Canada’s electricity.

The news: Canadian minister of energy and natural resources Jonathan Wilkinson announced the funding on February 29 at the Canadian Nuclear Association’s 2024 conference. The funding would come from the Clean Energy Predevelopment program, a Natural Resources Canada fund that supports preparatory work on large clean energy projects.

Bruce C would account for more than 25 percent of the new nuclear capacity that will be needed to meet Ontario’s long-term clean energy needs, as recommended by Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator’s Pathway to Decarbonization report.

“It will help Canada with its ongoing efforts to achieve a clean, reliable, and affordable electricity grid,” Wilkinson said. “This is a national conversation, and effort and work amongst provinces, territories, Indigenous leaders, utilities and industry, the private sector, unions, academics and civil society I needed to build that clean, reliable, and affordable electric grid in every province and territory in this country.”

Pathway to Decarbonization, published in 2022, recommends the planning, siting, and environmental work for long-lead assets—including nuclear power—to help Canada meet increasing electricity demand in the 2030s and beyond. It forecasts that Ontario may need to more than double its electricity generation capacity in less than 30 years.

“New nuclear generation, like the first large-scale nuclear build in a generation at Bruce Power, supported by this investment from the federal government, will ensure we have the reliable, affordable, and clean electricity we need to support the next major international investment, the new homes we are building, and industries – like our steel producers – as they grow and electrify,” said Todd Smith, Ontario’s minister of energy.

The background: Bruce Power is currently completing a multiyear federal Impact assessment process as a planning tool to add the 4,800 MWe of nuclear energy. Although no final decision has been made to advance the new build, this “no-regret” action is an important step to quickly execute new generation if a decision is made to proceed, Bruce Power said in its news release.

“Ontario has one of the cleanest electricity grids in the world and the nuclear industry is leading the way,” said Mike Rencheck, Bruce Power’s president and chief executive officer. “This predevelopment funding is a great example of how the federal and provincial governments are working together with the private sector . . . for clean energy projects that will allow us to meet our climate goals to benefit Ontario and all Canadians.”

Canada has a goal of reducing its electricity grid to net-zero emissions by 2035.

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