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Ontario to Refurbish Pickering // House Considers Overturning Biden LNG Pause

Welcome to Grid Brief! Here’s what we’re looking at today: Canada’s Pickering nuclear power plant is slated for refurbishment, India stocks up on coal, and more.

Ontario to Refurbish Pickering

Ontario has announced that it plans to refurbish the CANDU reactors at its Pickering plant, giving Canada’s oldest nuclear power generators a 30 year life extension. The decision marks a major win for Canada’s nuclear power advocates and the province’s grid.

“The announcement comes as demand for electricity in Ontario is forecast to increase sharply over the coming decades,” reports CBC. “Meanwhile, all provinces face federal clean electricity regulations that would require future power plants to produce net-zero carbon emissions.”

"With global business looking to expand in jurisdictions with reliable, affordable and clean electricity, a refurbished Pickering Nuclear Generating Station would help Ontario compete for and land more game-changing investments," Ontario’s Minister of Energy Todd Smith said in a press release.

"The refurbishment of Pickering would create thousands of new jobs and help produce at least another 30 years of safe, reliable and clean electricity to power the next major international investment, the new homes we are building and industries as they grow and electrify,” Smith added.

According to Ontario’s Energy Ministry, the refurbishment will take 11 years to complete, adding 11,000 jobs per year and raising Ontario's GDP by $19.4 billion. The four CANDU reactors would supply 2000 MW of power. Ontario’s plan requires approval from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.

The news about Pickering comes as the atom returns to a place of pride in Canada. Ontario’s Darlington nuclear power station is already halfway through its refurbishment and Hydro-Quebec is considering restarting its Gentilly-2 nuclear power plant.

House Considers Overturning Biden LNG Pause

The US House of Representatives will vote to overturn President Biden’s pause on LNG export project approvals.

“The vote will take place the week after next, Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said during an interview,” reports Bloomberg.

The vote will likely pass through the GOP-controlled house, but fail in the Democrat-controlled Senate.

However, Republicans may use overturning the pause as a rider to the emergency aid Democrats seek for Taiwan, Ukraine, and Israel.

One of the bills the House is considering would strip the Department of Energy of its power to grant LNG-export licenses, investing the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission with that authority instead.

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Conversation Starters

  • European diesel prices climb. “Diesel prices in Europe are rallying amid tightening supply due to Red Sea shipping disruptions, threatening to test the resilience of European economies which have narrowly avoided recessions in recent months,” reports Oilprice.com. “With many tankers now avoiding the Red Sea/Suez Canal route, diesel supply to Europe from Asia has become more expensive as freight and insurance rates have jumped and vessels are making a longer trip all around the Cape of Good Hope in Africa.”

  • Russian tankers have begun to avoid the Red Sea. “Traders were diverting cargoes with Russian oil products around Africa to avoid the Red Sea due to a heightened risk of attacks by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi group, data from market sources and LSEG showed.

    Last week, the fuel tanker Marlin Luanda, carrying Russian naphtha, was attacked in the Red Sea by Houthi rebels,” reports Reuters. “Since the full EU embargo on Russian oil products took effect in February 2023, traders have rerouted fuel oil, vacuum gasoil (VGO) and naphtha cargoes from Russian ports to Asia and the Middle East via the Red Sea and the Suez Canal as the shortest sea route.”

  • Energy storage wins heaps of VC funding. “Venture capital funding in the global energy storage space broke records in 2023, coming in at $9.2 billion in 86 deals — a 59% year-over-year increase, according to a recent report from clean energy research and communications firm Mercom Capital Group,” reports Utility Dive. “The jump in venture capital funding last year was fueled by the Inflation Reduction Act, which extended investment tax credits to standalone energy storage projects exceeding 5 kWh, Raj Prabhu, CEO of Mercom Capital Group, said in an email.”

Crom’s Blessing

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