Bruce Power has successfully restored the four units at Bruce A with the cooperation of private industry, trade unions and the provincial government. The relatively compact site now houses 8 large nuclear units with a total generating capacity of 6,300 MW of emission free electricity.
The successful project was driven by creative people applying their problem solving skills to a challenging but rewarding task. The Bruce A refurbishment project shows that aging issues can be addressed, that there is no reason to assume that nuclear energy requires the public to assume risks without any rewards, and that a cooperative approach can result in shared prosperity with benefits for workers, investors and governments.
The restoration process involved an innovative alteration that gives each of the eight units on the site the ability to change its output by 300 MW. The result is a total site power maneuvering capability of 2,400 MW. That variable output is valuable to the grid operators; it provides them with enhanced options for maintaining the second by second balance between supply and demand that is required on an electrical power grid.
People opposed to nuclear energy often assert that “Wall Street” investors are not terribly interested in supporting new nuclear power projects, but maybe that is not such a bad criticism. It indicates that people who are richly rewarded for focusing on quick financial returns have difficulty devising strategies that allow them to walk away with the largest slice of the pie on a nuclear deal.
As Bruce Power’s skillfully produced video shows, nuclear energy projects often pay dividends for decades. Those dividends are then distributed among large groups of people who have each invested their skills and intellectual capital to make the project a success. Nuclear energy benefits are also shared by customers who receive a clean, reliable project for a moderate, predictable cost. Those are not the kind of project payoffs that provide lucrative bonuses to Wall Street deal makers.
In related news, the UK government and EDF have agreed to a deal that will result in the construction of two 1,600 MWe EPR units at the Hinkley Point site. Many nuclear critics continue to repeat the talking point that the strike price is double the current wholesale market price. That talking point fails to acknowledge the value of protecting the UK against unpredictable price volatility associated with reducing the country’s dependence on natural gas. Increased supply options substantially reduces the upward pricing pressure associated with constrained supplies of a limited resource.