Introduction

We aim to address an open challenge to the general public by the Ontario Government and Ontario Power Generation Inc. (OPG) to try to find ways to repurpose the Pickering Nuclear Plant and to utilize the mile-wide area of land surrounding the facility designated as a buffer zone.

Following an extensive refurbishment of the plant in 2004-05, designed to extend the useful life of the plant by another 10 years, the cost to the government ended up being $1600/kWe, nearly double the original estimate. This led to the retirement of two of the plant’s 8 reactors in 2010 and a decision by the plant’s owners, OPG, not to invest in the full refurbishment of the plant’s remaining reactors to extend their life beyond 2020. As such, OPG is openly asking the public for ideas on how it may effectively repurpose the plant’s site and facilities.

After an initial assessment of the challenges posed by OPG to identify potential solutions for repurposing the Pickering Nuclear plant, four individuals of Aboriginal decent have come together as a group, under the name “4 Skies Energy Solutions” (4 SKIES), to propose a holistic solution to replace four of the plant’s existing nuclear reactors, including turbines and generators (4 x 540 MW), with a combined cycle tri-generation natural gas power plant capable of producing 2,000 MW of power (net to the grid). In addition to generating power, waste heat and CO2 from the plant will be used to enhance plant growth in a year-round greenhouse operation designed to produce as much as 100,000 tons annually of fresh, organic produce for sale to local markets. 

The estimated cost of the repurposing project concept is $2.5 billion. However, a comprehensive feasibility study will need to be undertaken to determine a more accurate cost for the trigeneration facility. The main structure of a newly repurposed tri-generation facility will be designed and built using proven, “best-in-class” technology, including: natural gas boilers, gas turbines, waste heat recovery systems with steam turbines and generators, electrical and mechanical systems, subsystems and components, engineered and designed to work together and to integrate with the existing infrastructure of the Pickering Nuclear Plant.

Assuming this project is selected for further review and study, 4 SKIES would welcome the opportunity to participate in overseeing the project from start to finish, inclusive of the comprehensive feasibility study, design and pre-engineering of the trigeneration plant and greenhouse operation. When construction commences, 4 SKIES would also welcome participation in the project execution by helping to manage the project and to partner with OPG, or its designated EPC contractor, to be involved in the project through to its completion. Assuming OPG personnel currently employed at the Pickering Nuclear Plant will transition to the gas plant, 4 SKIES, with its teaming partner IGES Canada limited, would be more than capable of managing the installation of the greenhouse facilities, including vertical farming structures, water plant and anaerobic digester facilities.

It is anticipated that the repurposing project will be undertaken by OPG as the owner of the project. However, if OPG is looking for a Public, Private, Partnership (PPP) arrangement, 4 SKIES is prepared to consider a partnership with OPG. If OPG is considering other options regarding ownership but would still like 4 SKIES to be involved, than 4 SKIES will be happy to discuss the matter with the Government of Ontario and OPG. On the other hand, if OPG and the Government of Ontario are looking to turn the project over to developers to develop the project, including owning and operating the project, 4 SKIES would be more than happy to discuss terms leading to direct ownership of the project provided the new plant facilities can be properly financed. This may involve a long term lease or direct sale of the existing plant facilities to the project’s developers and JV partners and would certainly involve the execution of a long term Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with the Government of Ontario or OPG.

Regardless of how the project is structured, it is expected that the Government of Ontario and OPG will respect the intellectual property of 4 SKIES regarding this concept and the copyright implied herein and provide their full cooperation for the continued involvement of 4 SKIES in the project.

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Project Location: Pickering, Ontario
Type of Project: Repurposing: Nuclear to NG
Project Cost: TBD
Fuel Type: Natural Gas
Type of Technology: Combined Cycle Tri-generation
Plant Capacity (electric): 2000 MW (net)
Power Plant Efficiency: 61 percent
Electricity to Grid: 16,800,000,000 kWh/year
Potable Water Potential: 120,000 m3/day
Greenhouse Produce Potential: 100,000 tons/year
PPA Term: 25 years (recommended)
Estimated Time for Completion: 24 – 30 months
Project Life: Up to 50 years

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In a combined cycle tri-generation plant waste heat is recovered from (1) the primary gas turbine exhaust to produce steam to power (2) a standard Ranking Cycle steam turbine and generator. Some of the remaining heat from the steam turbine is diverted to supply heat to (3) distill water and heat greenhouses required to grow produce and also to heat an anaerobic digester to process organic waste from the greenhouses into biogas and bio-fertilizer. In fact, this solution will also divert most, if not all, of the plant’s CO2 emissions to help perpetuate plant growth in the greenhouses, provided that state of the art CO2 scrubbers offered by Siemens are utilized in the gas plant to first clean as much as 90% of the CO2 before diversion to the greenhouses. This would effectively make the project one of the cleanest trigeneration plants in the world.

Another key feature of the 4 SKIES concept allows for the systematic dismantling of the nuclear reactors while taking advantage of some of the plant’s remaining infrastructure, including: substation; transmission lines; roads, port facilities, storage and land now comprising the mile-wide buffer zone. Once repurposed, the entire facility will continue to supply 2,000 MW of electricity to the grid, while producing 100,000 tons annually of quality, organic produce for sale to local markets. 

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