LONDON: The UK’s largest engineering services company Amec PLC has been awarded a C$510m (£245m) project management contract by Canada’s largest nuclear generator Bruce Power.
Amec will oversee the rebuilding of the two nuclear reactors Unit Nos.1 and 2 that had been shut down in 1997 and 1995, respectively, when they were found to be needing upgrades. The contract is part of a £2bn investment to restart these reactors in order to help reduce the country’s heavy reliance on coal-fired power stations.
When the two units resume operation in 2009 they would replace about one fifth of the province’s 7,500 MW of coal-fired power. The Canadian government has ordered all coal-fired power generators shut between 2007 and 2009 as the carbon dioxide emissions from these plants were contributing to the greenhouse effect.
The refurbished units would also enhance Bruce Power’s output by over 6,200MW which is about 25 percent of Ontario’s power demand. Ontario is the industrialized province in Central Canada where 18 of the country’s total of 20 reactors are located.
In recent times, the province’s power generation has fallen far short of its requirements. Last summer this industrial centre had suffered several power outages. The country will need a further 25,000MW of generating capacity by 2020, according to the energy ministry’s calculations.
The government of Canada is convinced of the practicality and ecological sense behind nuclear generators and is expected to give its approval for building new nuclear power stations. It will also be honouring its commitment to the Kyoto agreement to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to below 6 percent lower than the 1990s levels by 2012.
Currently, Canada’s power needs are met 13 percent by nuclear generators and 57 percent by hydro-electricity. The remaining portion is met by coal-fired power stations.
Once the two units are restarted, Bruce Power will continue to generate nuclear power for the next 30 years instead of closing the final unit in 2018 as was earlier planned.
The British engineering company Amec is optimistic about the future and hopefully believes the Canadian contract is the first of many such contracts that should come their way. As governments and commercial organisations worldwide realize the environmental practicality of nuclear power, there would be more investment in this area asking companies such as Amec Nuclear to clean up, rebuild and restart once closed down nuclear reactors.