The Ontario RFP for New Reactors

The Ontario Nuclear RFP

The Ontario nuclear Request for Proposal can be downloaded from the Infrastructure Ontario website (hint: allow pop ups and search for its official title Nuclear Procurement Proposal).

 Let’s have a brief look at the main points of this RFP.

The introduction says that the government of Ontario “commissioned an independent and comprehensive review of the current commercially available nuclear reactor designs, presumably the report by McKinsey of which more later.  It also mentions a “similar review was carried out by Ontario Power Generation and Bruce Power”.  That’s not available either but it would be interesting to see if there is a joint report or two separate ones. If it was joint, it might tell us what the two companies agree upon. 

On the basis of these reviews, the following companies (designs) were invited to respond to the RFP:

·         AREVA NP (US EPR)

·         Atomic Energy Canada Limited (ACR-1000)

·         GE -Hitachi Nuclear Energy International LLC (ESBWR)

·         Westinghouse Electric Company LLC (AP1000).

Note that GE-Hitachi opted out of the competition shortly after this RFP was issued because its Canadian branch plant will be a partner in an AECL proposal.

The purpose of the RFP is to identify a contractor to perform all the steps to provide a “stand-alone two-unit nuclear power plant, at an Ontario site to be specified …..”, providing “roughly 2,000-3,500 MWe of baseload generation capacity to the Ontario grid” with an option …”for an additional one or two units”, if Ontario decides it wants them.

The primary criteria on which the first pass of proposals will be judged are:

·         “capability to execute a plan to provide the support necessary for a successful construction licence application;

·         ability to deliver a successful Canadian safety case on schedule and in compliance with Canadian regulatory requirements”

In other words each reactor vendor must be able to prove its product is licensable by the Canadian nuclear regulator, the CNSC (Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission).  The RFP is asking for a plan for licensing rather than a license itself.  Nevertheless, it’s not immediately apparent how this could work since the CNSC has little or no experience with any of the proposed designs. Convincing that agency to make the very large investments necessary to establish the capability may not be easy but would have to be a key step in the plan.  Regulatory aspects will be a topic on this blog. 

Now we come to what I consider the most annoying and outrageous part of the RFP and that’s section 3.3 entitled “Communications Restrictions” This explicitly prohibits all discussion of the RFP not only by those having a stake (all of the nuclear enterprises in Ontario) but also it forbids  participation in  “any media release, public announcement or public disclosure (whether for publication in the press, on the radio, television, internet or any other medium) that relates to the RFP ………or any matters related thereto” or to make “any public comment, respond to questions in a public forum”  all of this “without Infrastructure Ontario’s prior written consent”.

The Ontario government is clearly stating in the RFP that it considers all discussion of the RFP as “confidential commercial information”. Therefore, we can only conclude the government of Ontario wishes to prevent meaningful public discussion of the momentous multi-billion dollar decision on Ontario’s nuclear future.

This brings us full circle to the purpose of this blog namely a full and open discussion of new reactors choices not only for Ontario but for New Brunswick, Alberta and perhaps Saskatchewan. 


5 Responses to “The Ontario RFP for New Reactors”

  1. Don Jones Says:

    Re The Ontario RFP for new reactors

    Infrastructure Ontario is going to select Ontario’s new reactors based on, lifetime cost of power (LUEC), ability to get on line by 2018 July 1, and level of investment in Ontario.

    The LUEC will be 80% of the evaluation weighing in vendor submissions. The level of investment in Ontario will be measured on basis of GDP impact and will represent 20% of the evaluation weighing. They are using this 80:20 “because the economic benefit of cost of power and ability to deliver on time is more than four times greater than the economic benefit gained through the level of investment in Ontario through local spending”.

    This 80:20 split seems to penalize the ACR more than the PWRs since more work would be expected in Ontario, and Canada but this does not seem to count, with the ACR. What was the basis of this 4:1 split. More weight should be put on the job creating aspect. The selection criteria does not give any weight to manufacturing in other parts of Canada outside Ontario. The rest of Canada counts like France or the US!

    LUEC might be a useful tool to compare a nuclear plant with say a coal-fired plant but to use it as the prime tool to compare one nuclear plant to another nuclear plant is stretching things, particularly comparing one PWR to another PWR. There are just too many variables and tolerances on the variables and opportunities to cook the books. There has to be a better way.

    With CANDU and the ACR Canada is the design authority, with the PWR Canada is just a customer. India, home of CANDU type technology, now has a waiver from the NSG, opening up huge opportunities for Team CANDU and Canada’s nuclear industry. China is using technology transferred from foreign suppliers to develop its own design of Generation 3+ PWRs so long term prospects (say post 2017) in China could be poor for foreign PWRs but not necessarily for the ACR-1000.

  2. Don Jones Says:

    Re The Ontario RFP for new reactors.

    In view of the current global economic disaster why doesn’t Ontario invoke force majeure, abandon this ill advised competition and commit to AECL’s ACR-1000 for the new build. The ACR-1000 will provide more work in Ontario and Canada than any of the competing technologies. Getting the CNSC to only focus on the familiar CANDU design will speed up the approval process so that shovels can get in the ground, the trades working and the supply chain moving.

  3. Paul Hinman Says:

    I am surprised to see that reliability and capacity factor have not been included. The ACR would have a theoretical capacity factor that would be higher than the others just because of the on-power refuelling.

    In Alberta our oil sands projects have an economic effect that includes Central Canada, to not include the national benefits of the ACR over the others is simply not patriotic. Any money kept in Canada eventually gets spread around.

  4. Don Jones Says:

    Re The Ontario RFP for New Reactors

    Re Report in Toronto Star, Oct. 20, “Ottawa eyes selling stake in AECL”

    Am I missing something here. The report says, “AECL’s future will likely remain in limbo until March 2009, when the Ontario government awards a contract to build two reactors in the province”. This is a chicken and egg dilemma. Ottawa is waiting for Queen’s Park to decide on the new nuclear supplier before deciding the future status of AECL, and Queen’s Park cannot pick AECL as the vendor until it know its future status. Why don’t they get their heads together right now so that the federal government can clarify the situation and give some financial support to Ontario if it selects AECL’s ACR-1000. The present and future job situation in Ontario demands some action.

  5. Dr Singh Says:

    “The ACR would have a theoretical capacity factor that would be higher than the others just because of the on-power refuelling”
    – yes, theoretically. In practice, refueling outages in PWR have made enormous improvements from months to several weeks.

    – PWR and ACR1000 both use enriched Uranium (to different extents). This negates the CANDU cost advantage of using natural U, and not sinking $billions into enrichment facility.

    – both PWR and CANDU use about same amount of U ore anually. But, PWR leave stockpiles of depleated U238 + smaller mass of spent fuel. For CANDU, U238 is never seperated so we have a lot more volume to deal with. But CANDU can be used to burn MOX and Thorium.. why it hasn’t happened yet is mystery.

    – Personally I’m against choosing AECL. And not just because of MAPLE failure. Or NRU scandal. Or even fact ACR1000 design isnt expected to be finished until 2012. AECL is busy enough with BruceA, Embalse, Gentily, Lepreau and soon either or both PickeringB and BruceB… HOW CAN YOU POSSIBLY EXPECT ONTIME AND ONBUDGET, with them managing so many projects!?

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