The Ontario Government will announce plans to refurbish the 50-year-old Pickering nuclear power station, potentially keeping the plant operating for another 30 years.

According to CBC News, the announcement will be made on Tuesday as the government looks to meet the forecast increase in electricity demand in the province over the next few decades. All provinces face federal clean electricity regulations that require future power plants to produce net-zero carbon emissions.

Ontario Minister for Energy Todd Smith will announce the government’s support of Ontario Power Generation’s (OPG) plan to refurbish the power plant, according to an advanced copy of the provincial news release seen by CBC News.

Pickering B is made up of four Candu reactors from the early 1980s. After the refurbishment, which is set to take 11 years, plant output will be 2GW, comparable with the current output of the existing units.

The plan is subject to approval by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. The commission is already considering an OPG request to extend the operating licence of Pickering B’s existing units until 2026. If approved, the time frame would allow the plant to continue generating electricity until it gets shut down to begin refurbishment.

The refurbishment comes as part of a wider nuclear push in Ontario. In October 2022, OPG submitted an application to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission requesting a licence to construct a GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy BWRX-300 small modular reactor at the Darlington site in Ontario. While the licence is required for any nuclear construction work to begin at the site, preparation work is already under way. OPG expects the request to be granted by the end of 2024, and according to this timeline, the unit will be completed by late 2028 and supply power to the grid in 2029.

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