Bruce Power to reach new peak in nuclear power output
The world’s largest nuclear facility is growing its peak output.
As of Thursday, Bruce Power says its eight unit nuclear plant, located along the shores of Lake Huron near Kincardine, Ont., can produce 6550 MW of electricity, 250 MW more than the previous peak.
“As part of our life extension program, we’re replacing components with new components that are more efficient, more effective and more modern,” said Bruce Power CEO, Mike Renchek. “So, we’re able to get more power out of that unit, as a result.”
Bruce Power can’t technically reach its new peak yet, because the company is currently refurbishing six of the eight nuclear units, as part of a 15 year, $13 billion project, swapping out most of the parts of each reactor, one a time.
Rencheck says they are planning to reach 7000 MW of peak production by 2030, through efficiencies, as well as using new technologies, which could include integration with storage and possibly other forms of energy.
“We’ll effectively be adding a reactor and half of energy, by the time we’re done in 2033,” said Rencheck.
The increased output from Bruce Power, which currently produces 34 per cent of Ontario’s electricity, is music to the ears of the province’s Energy Minister, Todd Smith.
“When it comes to investing in nuclear, it’s a big decision. Our government is 100 per cent behind our nuclear sector because we can rely on it. It’s providing reliable, affordable, clean energy solutions that we need in Ontario,” said Smith.
But, Bruce Power has recently run into issues with some of its pressure tubes. Earlier this summer, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission says pressure tube “hydrogen equivalent concentration” levels or HEQ, exceeded licensing limits in two of Bruce’s reactors.
Pressure tubes with high HEQ levels are at risk of developing cracks, which could cause them to fracture.
Rencheck says he’s confident the current pressure tubes and new pressure tubes, which will be installed over the next 10 years, will be able to withstand the anticipated increased energy output.
“The pressure tubes are being replaced as part of our life extension program. When we’re done, they’ll effectively be brand new units. We looked at the pressure tubes, very extensively,” he explained.
More power also means Bruce Power could be increasing the amount of medical isotopes produced. The plant currently produce isotopes used to sterilize medical equipment and cancer treatments. Bruce Power’s isotopes currently sterilize 40 per cent of the world’s single-use medical devices.