Darlington refurbishment kicks off – what’s involved
October 16, 2016 | By MRO Magazine
Toronto – Ontario Power Generation (OPG) started Canada’s largest clean energy project, the refurbishment of the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station east of Toronto.
“Refurbishment of Darlington will ensure emissions-free nuclear continues to be Ontario’s single largest source of power. The project will create up to 11,800 jobs annually and contribute nearly $15 billion to Ontario’s economy.” said Glenn Thibeault, Ontario Minister of Energy.
“This project is an investment in Ontario’s future. It benefits communities across the province, it provides clean, safe and reliable power and will help moderate customer prices,” said Jeff Lyash, OPG’s President and CEO. “I’ve been involved in a lot of major projects over the years and I can confidently say, I’ve never seen one that has had this amount of rigorous preparation and is this poised for success,” Lyash added.
The Darlington Nuclear Generating Station is a mainstay of the Ontario economy and its refurbishment will permanently boost the Ontario economy, according to the results of research conducted by the Conference Board of Canada and presented to Ontario Power Generation.
“The boost to economic activity would have far-reaching and long-term stimulative effects on the Ontario economy,” said Pedro Antunes, Executive Director and Deputy Chief Economist, the Conference Board of Canada. “The operational expenditures associated with Darlington through 2055 will lift employment by roughly 555,000 person-years in Ontario over the life of the station, with Darlington serving as a critical source of job creation for Ontarians, both within and outside the utilities industry.”
A report released last week by Intrinsik Environmental Sciences, Inc. says “continued operations of the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station will remove the equivalent of two million cars a year from Ontario’s roads.”
“These reports clearly show that Darlington will continue to play a major role in Ontario’s future economic and environmental success,” Lyash said.
OPG is also planning to continue to operate its Pickering Nuclear Generating Station until 2024. The recent “Speech from the Throne” indicated this will save Ontario’s electricity customers $600 million, and provide a clean energy source of electricity when Darlington and Bruce Power units are offline for refurbishment.
- The ongoing operation of Darlington is expected to boost personal income in Ontario by an average of $1.6 billion per year from 2017 to 2055, or by a total of $61.4 billion. Corporate profits before tax will increase by $7 billion over the same period.
- The continued operation of Darlington is projected to result in a $9.3 billion increase in Ontario provincial government revenues. The federal government will collect $13.8 billion in revenue, while local municipalities in Ontario will collect $356 million.
- OPG will work with the Ministry of Energy, the Independent Electricity System Operator and the OEB to pursue continued operation of the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station to 2024. All six units would operate until 2022; two units would then shut down and four units would operate to 2024. Extending Pickering’s operation will ensure a reliable, clean source of base load electricity during the Darlington and initial Bruce refurbishments.
- Technical studies show that Pickering Nuclear Generating Station can be safely operated to 2024. Extending its operating life will save Ontario electricity customers up to $600 million, avoid eight million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions and protect 4,500 jobs across Durham Region.
Source of job creation
Refurbishing Ontario Power Generation’s (OPG) Darlington Nuclear Generating Station, which starts tomorrow, will create important long-term economic benefits for workers and companies across Ontario, according to a detailed study by the Conference Board of Canada.
The study says the economic benefits of the project and the 30 plus years of operations following project completion will total $89.9 billion.
“The boost to economic activity would have far-reaching and long-term effects on the Ontario economy,” said Pedro Antunes, Executive Director and Deputy Chief Economist, the Conference Board of Canada. “The operational expenditures associated with the Darlington Station through 2055 will lift employment by roughly 555,000 person-years in Ontario over the life of the station, with Darlington serving as a critical source of job creation for Ontarians, both within and outside the utilities industry.”
The economic benefits are in addition to the 30 plus years of electricity that is free of greenhouse gas and smog causing emissions. A study conducted by Intrinsik Environmental Science, which was released last week, showed continued operations of the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station will remove the equivalent of two million cars from Ontario’s roads annually.
“These reports show clearly that nuclear power will continue to play a major role in Ontario’s future economic and environmental success,” said Jeff Lyash, OPG’s President and CEO.
The Darlington Nuclear Generating Station provides about 20 per cent of the power used in Ontario, or about one in five homes and businesses. OPG is also planning to continue to operate its Pickering Nuclear Generating Station until 2024. The recent Speech from the Throne indicated this will save Ontario’s electricity customers $600 million and will also provide a clean energy source during the Darlington Refurbishment.
KEY FINDINGS OF THE CONFERENCE BOARD REPORT
- The combination of refurbishment work and operations would lift employment by 704,112 person-years.
- The ongoing operation of Darlington Nuclear is expected to boost personal income in Ontario by an average of $1.6 billion per year from 2017 to 2055, or by a total of $61.4 billion.
- Household consumption will increase by $39.7 billion, which would be spent on shelter, food, clothing, vehicles and other household items.
- Corporate profits before tax would increase by $7.0 billion over the same 39-year period, which would increase business investment by an additional $3.3 billion.
- Higher labour income, increased corporate profits, and the purchase of supplies, raw materials, and services would all contribute to increased government tax revenues.
- The ongoing operation of Darlington Nuclear is projected to result in a $9.3 billion increase to provincial government revenues.
- The federal government would collect $13.8 billion in revenue, while local municipalities in Ontario would collect $356 million.
INVESTING IN ONTARIO
Ontario Power Generation (OPG) is well-positioned to deliver the Darlington Refurbishment on time and on budget. The Darlington Nuclear Generating Station is one of the world’s top performing nuclear stations. OPG has put in years of detailed planning, built a state-of-the-art training facility, assembled an excellent team, and partnered with top companies from across Ontario.
Refurbishing Darlington will provide 30 more years of safe, reliable baseload power with virtually no greenhouse gas emissions, helping Canada meet its climate change targets. It will also allow OPG to continue to moderate electricity prices and maintain the positive economic benefits of generation at the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station.
What happens during the Darlington refurbishment?
Refurbishing each of Darlington Nuclear Generating Station’s four reactors involves a number of steps.
Shutdown of the Reactor
The first major activity during the refurbishment will be to shut down the reactor. At this time, systems not required for an extended period are placed into a safe state referred to as lay-up.
Removal of Fuel and Heavy Water
The fuel will be removed from the reactor using fuelling machines. The removed fuel will be placed in the fuel bays as we currently do. Once the reactor fuel is removed from the reactor, heavy water will be drained from the system and transferred to an appropriate storage facility. The heavy water will be processed and available for reactor use when the outage is completed.
Islanding the Refurbishment Unit from the Operating Units
Once the reactor undergoing refurbishment has been defueled, it will be separated (islanded) from the other operating units. This is done by putting up physical barriers to delineate the refurbishment island from the operating reactors. This helps OPG staff and contractors work efficiently on the reactor while reducing the impact of refurbishment on the operating units and common systems.
Replacement of Reactor Components
The reactor components will be restored or replaced. This includes removing and replacing 480 fuel channel assemblies and 960 inlet and outlet feeders per reactor. The components will be processed and placed into appropriate storage containers.
The remaining components will be inspected to ensure they are acceptable for continued operation.
Removing and replacing the reactor components is the critical part of the outage. OPG has applied lessons learned from past refurbishment efforts. This includes developing intensive personnel training and tool testing programs in the full-scale reactor mock-up.
Turbine and Steam Generators
A majority of the turbine generator systems and auxiliary systems will be disassembled and rebuilt or replaced. OPG has concluded the steam generators will remain fit for service over the life extension period and will not require replacement. The steam generator tubes and parts will be inspected, inspection nozzles will be installed and the steam generators will be cleaned to improve heat transfer.
Balance of Plant Repair and Maintenance
The remaining scope of work is being carried out to maintain or improve the safety and reliability of the station to the post-refurbishment end of life. The scope of work includes:
- Work on nuclear systems, such as the primary heat transport system and the reactor regulating systems; and
- Work on conventional systems, such as the low pressure service water system and the fire protection system.
Return to Service of Reactors
Return to service involves returning the reactor to commercial operation, and includes demonstrating the work meets specified requirements. Return to service covers a range of activities from completing the installation work to achieving 100 per cent reactor power.
OPG provides about half of the electricity used in Ontario and more than 99 per cent of the power it produces has no greenhouse gas or smog causing emissions. OPG’s power is priced 40 per cent lower than other generators, which helps moderate customer bills.
Source: Ontario Power Generation Inc.