Nuclear fall-out: Ontario's supply dilemma in a decarbonizing world

Nuclear fall-out: Ontario's supply dilemma in a decarbonizing world

Local distribution companies and generators in Ontario must address tectonic shifts in the province’s power sector during the next decade. By 2025, a quarter of the installed nuclear capacity in the province will retire, with additional units cycling on and offline for refurbishment in the next 15 years. Many factors may leave the province short on options to meet electricity demand, including the province’s cap-and-trade program, developing federal CO2 initiatives, the recently suspended large renewable procurements, and potential demand growth due to carbon policy-driven electrification.

Building a solid foundation for this unprecedented portfolio of challenges requires integrated and holistic resource planning and policy incentives that feature large-scale deployment of emerging technologies such as flexible demand response, renewable grid- and distributed-generation, and storage. The supply cushion the province has been accustomed to during the last decade, accommodated by demand decline, bears the risk of lulling companies and regulators into a false sense of security and inaction. The first nuclear refurbishments are under way and a carbon price, along with carbon policy measures funded by cap-and-trade regulation, start in just a month. The time is now to start a conversation between all stakeholders and to build a sustainable strategy for an increasingly decarbonizing Ontario.

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