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Canada provides federal funds for Bruce C pre-development

29 February 2024

The federal government is providing CAD50 million of funding to support pre-development work to study the feasibility of building 4800 MWe of new generating capacity at the Bruce site in Ontario.

Wilkinson (left) announces the funding, watched by Smith and Rencheck (Image: Bruce Power)

The funding was announced by Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Jonathan Wilkinson at the Canadian Nuclear Association’s CNA 2024 conference, which is taking place in Ottawa, and aligns with the federal government’s Powering Canada Forward plan to build a net-zero economy, as well as the province’s Powering Ontario’s Growth plan.

“Today I am very pleased to announce the federal government is providing CAD50 million to Bruce Power, which will enable the early parts of the process aimed at adding up to 4800 megawatts of new nuclear generation,” Wilkinson said.

“This project alone represents more than 25% of the new nuclear capacity required for Ontario to meet its clean energy needs in 2050, as was recommended by Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator’s Pathway to Decarbonisation report. And it will help Canada with its ongoing efforts to achieve a clean, reliable and affordable electricity grid.

“Today’s announcement is yet another endorsement of Canada’s nuclear industry, which will continue to be an important part of our efforts to maintain and strengthen Canada’s clean electricity advantage. This is a national conversation, and effort and work amongst provinces, territories, Indigenous leaders, utilities and industry, the private sector, unions, academics and civil society is needed to build that clean, reliable and affordable electric grid in every province and territory in this country.”

The Ontario government announced its support for an expansion of the Bruce site – already home to eight – in July. The provincial government’s Powering Ontario’s Growth plan also includes three additional small modular reactors at Ontario Power Generation’s Darlington site.

Bruce Power formally notified Canadian regulators of its intent to launch an impact assessment process for the new capacity, known as Bruce C, in October and recently outlined plans to begin technology evaluation this year.

The multi-year federal impact assessment process including Indigenous and public engagement, environmental and socioeconomic studies, and permitting activities provides a planning tool to evaluate the potential for the Bruce C project. Although no decision has yet been made to advance a new build, Bruce Power says this “no-regret” action is an important step to support future electricity planning and allow faster execution should a decision to proceed be made.

Bruce Power President and CEO Mike Rencheck said the federal funding would now enable the company to start the impact assessment process.

“This is indicative of the amazing things that we can do when we work together and we collaborate,” he said. “Today’s CAD50 million announcement [means] we’re thinking big. We’re thinking long term. We’re thinking about a future that has clean energy everywhere,” he said. Having support from both the federal and provincial government “will enable us to turn this into a reality”.

“What this CAD50 million also means is we can do things differently in the next 50 years compared to what we did in the last 50 years,” he added. “We want an inclusive environment. We want to work with the Saugeen Ojibway nation, our indigenous communities, our municipalities, so that we can not only forge … clean energy generation, but continue to unfold the economic development promises that we made when we started with our refurbishments.”

Bruce Power previously applied for a licence to prepare for construction of up to four new reactors – totalling up to 4000 MWe – in 2007, but withdrew its application in 2009 as the company focused on the refurbishment of the existing Bruce A and B units. Those refurbishment projects are generating 22,000 direct and indirect jobs, and CAD3-4 billion in GDP in Ontario and CAD8-11 billion in Canada, Rencheck said. “A new build of 4800 megawatts amplifies that,” he said.

Ontario Minister of Energy Todd Smith described the investment as “historic”. “New nuclear generation, like the first large-scale nuclear build in a generation at Bruce Power, supported by this investment by the federal government, will ensure we have the reliable, affordable and clean electricity we need to support the next major international investment, the new homes we are building, and industries – like our steel producers – as they grow and electrify.”

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