Canadian provinces complete SMR study

15 April 2021

A study into the feasibility of the development and deployment of small modular reactors (SMRs) in Canada, prepared at the request of the leaders of New Brunswick, Ontario and Saskatchewan, has concluded the development of SMRs would support domestic energy needs, curb greenhouse gas emissions and position Canada as a global leader in this emerging technology. The province of Alberta has joined the three provinces as a signatory to a Memorandum of Understanding to collaborate on SMR development.

(Image: Government of Ontario)

The study, which has been carried out by Bruce Power, NB Power, Ontario Power Generation and SaskPower, was formally requested as part of the MoU signed by the provinces' leaders in December 2019. It sets out three streams of SMR project proposals for consideration by the governments of Ontario, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan.

Stream 1 proposes a first grid-scale SMR project of about 300 MW, which would be built at the Darlington nuclear site in Ontario by 2028. Subsequent units in Saskatchewan would follow, with the first SMR projected to be in service in 2032. Stream 2 would see two fourth-generation advanced SMRs that would be developed in New Brunswick, with an initial ARC Clean Energy demonstration unit at the Point Lepreau nuclear plant site operational by 2030, and a Moltex Energy Inc waste recycling facility and reactor by the early 2030s. Stream 3 proposes a new class of micro-SMRs designed primarily to replace the use of diesel in remote communities and mines. A project with a 5 MW Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation gas-cooled reactor is under way at the Chalk River site in Ontario and is expected to be in service by 2026.

Projects in all three streams are advancing rapidly and all are demonstrating commercial and technical feasibility, the study finds. Critical to SMR feasibility will be federal support, through cost and risk-sharing, as well as policy support; provincial support, with governments establishing policy and regulatory frameworks to enable SMRs as a clean energy option and support training programmes, as well as working with power companies to ensure appropriate project development oversight and public and Indigenous engagement; and nuclear industry support, to ensure a strong domestic supply chain including uranium mining, nuclear suppliers and world-leading nuclear research, as well as skilled workforces in readiness for SMR deployment.

A joint strategic plan, to be drafted in collaboration by the four provincial governments, is the next step under the MoU. This will identify the steps required within each stream to achieve project commitments in a timely manner while identifying key risks and how they can be mitigated, as well as the policy analysis required to clearly set out the requirements for government support. The strategic plan is to be completed this spring.

"We will only meet climate change goals through a swift transition to clean energy sources. This will require the adoption of existing and emerging low-carbon technologies, including small modular reactors," John Gorman, president and CEO of the Canadian Nuclear Association, said. "In fact, for a successful clean energy transition, new nuclear must play a lead role. Initiatives like those announced today, build momentum for Canada as a global leader in the development and deployment of these important technologies."

Alberta joins MoU

Alberta last year signalled its intention to join the MoU signed in 2019 by the leaders of New Brunswick, Ontario and Saskatchewan.


The MoU now has four signatories (Image: @jkenney)

"Alberta has always been committed to clean, affordable energy," Premier of Alberta Jason Kenney said yesterday. "Small modular reactors are an exciting new technology that could be used in the future to significantly cut greenhouse gas emissions, for example by generating power for Canadian oilsands producers. Nuclear is the cleanest form of electricity production and with SMRs, is now more affordable and scaleable for industrial use. We are excited to be part of this group that will help develop Canadian SMR technology."

Researched and written by World Nuclear News