OPG plans $9bn upgrade for Darlington nuclear plant and extend life of Pickering reactors

12 January 2016 (Last Updated January 12th, 2016 18:30)

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) intends to start a C$12.8bn ($9bn) refurbishment of the 3,512MW Darlington nuclear power station and extend the operational life of ageing reactors at 3,100MW Pickering nuclear generating station in Canada.

nuclear plant

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) intends to start a C$12.8bn ($9bn) refurbishment of the 3,512MW Darlington nuclear power station and extend the operational life of ageing reactors at 3,100MW Pickering nuclear generating station in Canada.

The Darlington plant generates 20% of the electricity mix in the Canadian province of Ontario, which is sufficient to power two million homes daily.

Upgrade works for the project is expected to start in the final quarter of this year and planned to be completed by 2026.

Refurbishment works at the site will involve replacement of major plant components, which include the fuel channels, calandria tubes and feeders, steam generators, turbine generators, fuel handling systems and other ancillary plant equipment.

OPG president and CEO Jeffrey Lyash said: "Refurbishing Darlington is an investment in Ontario, in clean air, in jobs, in innovation, and in lower energy prices."

The operator has already awarded a C$2.75bn ($1.94bn) contract to a joint venture between SNC-Lavalin Inc and Aecon Group for the execution phase of the Darlington re-tube and feeder replacement (RFR) scope of work.

The project is expected to extend the life of the four reactors at the nuclear plant by another 30 years, which will assist Canada to meet its climate change targets.

It is expected to generate C$14.9bn ($10.4bn) in economic benefits in Ontario, and offer 3,000 job opportunities.

The provincial government-owned OPG has also secured approval from the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) for continuing operations at the Pickering station until 2024.

"Refurbishing Darlington is an investment in Ontario, in clean air, in jobs, in innovation, and in lower energy prices."

OPG will be working together with the OEB, Ministry of Energy and the Independent Electricity System Operator to keep all the six nuclear units operational at the plant until 2022, following which two will be shut down while the other four will be generating power until 2024.

Lyash said: "Our technical work shows that Pickering can be safely operated to 2024 and that doing so would save Ontario electricity customers up to $600m, avoid eight million tons of greenhouse gas emissions and protect 4,500 jobs across Durham Region."

Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) will, however, need to approve the plans for operational life extension of the facility.

OPG has already started working on a licence application for CNSC approval in 2018.


Image: Darlington power plant located in Ontario, Canada. Photo: courtesy of Ontario Power Generation Inc.