Thursday, March 13, 2008

Early Sightings in Alberta

With Ontario gung ho on nuclear energy, it's interesting to see a glimmer of interest develop in Alberta. The provincial government has barely dealt with the issue, but Bruce Power - and really, insert no Canadian jokes here - has bought Energy Alberta, which had been working with Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. to bring a plant to the province's northwest quadrant.

Energy Alberta had committed to a partnership with AECL. But, in its filing to the federal regulator Wednesday, Bruce Power said it would take a “technology neutral” approach, meaning it will consider AECL along with competitors like France's AREVA SA, or Mitsubishi Corp.'s Westinghouse unit, or the General Electric Co./Hitachi Ltd. group.

Why Bruce Energy would broaden its search beyond AECL beyond what is given above is not mentioned - perhaps its size makes the effort more plausible - but the plant Energy Alberta planned has now become four. Still, early days.


DV8 2XL said...

"Why Bruce Energy would broaden its search beyond AECL beyond what is given above is not mentioned..."

There is a lot of political maneuvering going on in the nuclear sector in Canada right now that has more to do the future of AECL than anything else. Much of this talk of going to a foreign supplier is to make it clear to all concerned that changes will have to be made, or a captive market cannot be guaranteed.

AECL is long overdue for a house-cleaning, and the sooner this happens the better for everyone.

Anonymous said...

Bruce Power said in their announcement that instead of 2200 MW of capacity, their original concept, they are now looking to build a 4400 MW plant. Would this make it the largest nuclear power plant in North America? Isn't the largest one in the US at Palo Verde(sp?) only 3200 MW?


DV8 2XL said...

The Bruce plant itself is 6,830 MW second in the world behind Kashiwazaki-Kariwa 8,206 MW Japan.

Anonymous said...

How difficult and time-consuming would it be to license a PWR or BWR in Canada?

DV8 2XL said...

Offhand I'd say as hard as getting a CANDU licensed in the States.

At one time there was a move to license CANDU reactors in the U.S. but the costs of the licensing action and the uncertain market caused AECL to abandon the program in 1994. In 2005 Dominion Resources, one of the largest US utility companies, abandoned interest in using ACR technology. AECL had been counting on Dominion to license its product for sale in the United States.

GRLCowan said...

Way above par in that it misleads in no way -- that I noticed -- except the omission of vital information, this Bloomberg article reports a multi-year queue for giant steel forgings for non-CANDU reactors. Not for CANDUs, of course, but this is not mentioned.

Let the baby light matches in the fuel storage room

Matthew66 said...

Rod Adams over at Atomic Insights has noted CANDU reactors don't need either the heavy forgings or the enrichment required for PWRs or BWRs, so that makes them a very attractive option for countries wanting to avoid either.

Maybe it's the fact that I'm an Australian by birth and that Australians and Canadians are cousins (we have the same grandmother/head of state - Queen Elizabeth II) that makes me look on CANDUs favourably, but if I was a non-US utility looking at new build and contemplating getting in the line at Japan Steel works, I'd probably look for an alternative.

Having said that however, there some press on a steel works in Sheffield, UK that is contemplating expansion of their foundry to take advantage of the contemplated new build. I would also envisage that Hyundai in South Korea would also expand its foundries if it saw evidence of sustained new build.

All told it is an exciting time for those in the nuclear industry, maybe it's time I joined a company in the industry! Any openings for public sector accountants?

Gunter said...

The proposed nukes in Alberta would provide power to the tar sands industry; the most energy intensive and polluting of the remaining resources of the petroleum industry.

By example, nuclear power would be further driving climate change conditions through the hedgemony of coal, oil and nuclear.

Anonymous said...

Gunter, as you and your friends are so fond of saying, nuclear power is just a very complex way of boiling water. Well, here's an application that requires just that, why aren't you happy?

<extreme sarcasm>
Personally, though, I am very disappointed that they're not considering the use of the wind energy resources that are so abundant in Alberta. A study I just conducted proves that this would be a better choice for the environment!
</extreme sarcasm>

gunter said...

Just a note that last year the provincial government of Alberta lifted a 900 MWe cap on wind turbine develop.

Lifting the political cap will allow wind to finally compete in this prairie energy market. Vast resources out there to harvest that is at the same time compatible with, indeed enhances, agricultural economy.

Anonymous said...

AECL is long overdue for a house-cleaning, and the sooner this happens the better for everyone....

...I am a retired nuclear scientist with 23 years experience working for OPG's Research Division in Toronto. I have spent most of my professional career dealing with technical problems with OPG's fleet of CANDU reactors at Pickering, Bruce and Darlington. I am writing to the OPA to urge our electricity supply planners not to recommend the refurbishment or construction of any more CANDU reactors to supplement or replace the Province's existing electrical generating capacity....

DV8 2XL said...

Dr. P.R. Greening the Anonymous poster above is involved with Grand Erie Energy Quest, an organization that seems to want to keep the filthy Nanticoke coal generating station open and not have it replaced with a nuclear plant.

Nanticoke is the largest polluter in Canada and one of the largest in North America. This power plant emits many pollutants, including sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, mercury, lead, other heavy metals and arsenic. Its emissions contribute significantly to the smog that lies over Southern Ontario every summer, and to the region's acid rain. Nanticoke generating station is the single largest point source of CO2 in Canada and the fifth largest toxic air polluter. Its closure was a major tenet of the current Ontario Liberal Party government's election platform.

They demand that other options, including various remediation or improvements to the existing coal facility be undertaken rather than conversion to nuclear. These include coal gasification, carbon capture, conversion to burning of natural gas.

The real issue is that the county is staring at the loss of 600 jobs and $3 million in tax revenue. As a consequence any information that come from this source should be treated with suspicion