Other Considerations

Employment and Training

4 SKIES’ concept for “Repurposing Pickering” offers tremendous economic value to OPG and the Province of Ontario in terms of making available affordable base-load power (2,000 MW) and quality, organic, produce (100,000 ton/yr), to the citizens of Ontario. Other economic benefits which need to be considered with this concept is the amount of employment a project of this scale can offer.

Aside from the 1500 – 2000 construction jobs that will be involved during construction, there will be 500 – 700 fulltime jobs available on site to operate and maintain the project on an annual basis once the project’s facilities are is completed, including 250 – 300 fulltime jobs available in the trigeneration gas plant, which can be filled by displaced OPG employees now employed in the Pickering Nuclear Plant, and 250 - 450 jobs available in the greenhouse operations. Of course, these numbers will need to be verified in the feasibility study, but, if direct employment and indirect employment figures are taken into consideration, these employment figures could easily double for a project of this size and impact.

Training of existing OPG employees to operate the gas plant should be fairly straightforward as most of the basic principles of running a thermal power plant are common to nuclear and gas plants. The transition from a nuclear plant for many OPG employees redeployed in the gas plant may even come easy. The green house operation will be more of a challenge given that most employees involved will likely be new to vertical farming and greenhouses. Though there will be opportunities for unskilled labor there will also be specialized skillsets required to ensure a large-scale greenhouse operation functions smoothly. A detailed list of jobs required and training needed should also be addressed in the feasibility study. 

Research and Development (R&D)

A trigeneration project of this scale has never been done before. The sheer scale of this project will pose some interesting challenges and opportunities. The challenge of course will be to carefully plan the project to be cost effective, efficient and safe, and to deliver it on time and on budget. However, a project of this scale also represents a significant opportunity to explore new ideas and concepts through dedicated research, such as: studying the effects of CO2 on plant growth in the absence of natural sunlight using light emitting computer (LEC) technology; researching which types of food crops perform better in climate controlled greenhouses and vertical farms; exploring the benefits of indigenous plants and herbs in medicinal applications, examining algae growth and production technics for use in CO2 sequestration and for use as an energy crop; and studying biofuel production methods using anaerobic digestion and enzymes deigned to improve production yields, and testing the use of different biofuels used in energy production using fuel cells and cogeneration systems. 

An R&D facility, like the one contemplated in this 4 SKIES concept, will undoubtedly attract world-class engineers, scientists and horticulturalists to work and study together which may lead to expanded knowledge and technologies needed for improve crop yields and food production under controlled conditions, something that may be necessary in the future to feed the world’s growing population which is already struggling to keep up. 

Environmental Sustainability

Paramount to 4 SKIES’ concept for “Repurposing Pickering” is environmental sustainability. Environmental sustainability involves making decisions and taking action that are in the interests of protecting the natural world, with particular emphasis on preserving the capability of the environment to support human life. Underlining this project is the need to identify an energy solution to replace the aging nuclear reactors at Pickering. However, it is important that whatever solution is chosen it will need to strike a fine balance between delivering a reliable and economical power supply, needed to meet Ontario’s energy demand now and in the future, and the protection of the environment.

Although natural gas in North America is seen by many as the answer to sustainable energy, because it is plentiful and burns cleaner and more efficiently than all other fossil fuels, it nonetheless discharges huge amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere. CO2 is arguably a leading cause of “global warming” and whether we choose to accept or ignore the science behind global warming the effects of global warming can be devastating if measures are not take seriously to try to curb the amount of CO2 going into the atmosphere. 4 SKIES’ solution calls for a 2,000 MW trigeneration gas plant to be coupled with a 100,000 tons/year greenhouse operation to absorb at least 10% of the CO2 from the gas plant. With newly developed CO2 adsorption technologies being developed by Siemens and E.ON, and possibly others, it may be possible to achieve a completely CO2 free project.

Clean Energy Park

With a clean-burning, CO2 free, trigeneration gas plant and greenhouse operation representing the main focus of the 4 SKIES concept, with ancillary facilities, such as, anaerobic digestion, distilled water production and a state of the art R&D facility playing lesser but important complimentary roles, it might be easy to overlook how significantly important such an integrated facility would be to the rest of the world. To install these facilities together in one location has never been done and will undoubtedly be a global “first”. Think of the global attraction it represents when it is finally up and running. But why stop there? Why not open up space for a “Clean Energy Park” to allow Canadian imagination and innovation to come together in one location to show case not only the 4 SKIES concept, but future concepts fostering clean energy, some of which may not even be invented yet.