Federal loan provides certainty for Canadian SMR build

25 October 2022

The Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB) has announced a commitment of CAD970 million (USD713 million) towards Ontario Power Generation (OPG's) Darlington New Nuclear Project, in the bank's largest investment in clean power to date.

The existing Darlington plant provided a backdrop for the announcement (Image: OPG)

The Darlington New Nuclear Project will be a 300 MWe small modular reactor (SMR), which is to be built next to OPG's existing Darlington nuclear power plant in Clarington, Ontario. OPG in 2021 selected GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy's BWRX-300 SMR for the project and aims to complete Canada's first commercial, grid-scale SMR as soon as 2028.

The CIB's investment will finance Phase 1 work, covering all preparations prior to nuclear construction including project design, site preparation, procurement of long lead-time equipment, utility connections, implementation of a digital strategy, and related project management costs.

The CIB is a federal Crown corporation mandated to invest CAD35 billion over ten years in infrastructure which benefit Canadians. CIB CEO Ehren Cory said a project like the Darlington New Nuclear plant delivers significant outcomes. "As our largest clean power investment, we are supporting technology which can accelerate the reduction in greenhouse gases while also paving the way for Canada becoming a global SMR technology hub," he said.

The bank supports infrastructure projects by sharing risks and by providing long-term low-cost, stable finance, he said during the announcement event, which was held on the site where the new plant will be built. "The goal here is to get the technology built while making sure that it's affordable to Ontario rate-payers over the long term, so our loan helps reduce the total delivered cost of the project in a meaningful way that makes the project that much more competitive."

"We know nuclear energy, including from SMRs, is an essential part of the electricity mix to help meet our climate change goals. This low-interest financing helps us advance the Darlington New Nuclear Project, paving the way for development and deployment of the next generation of nuclear power in Canada," OPG President and CEO Ken Hartwick said.

As well as providing financial certainty, he said, the CIB's support also signals support by the federal government for the project, he said: "This project will be competitive with any other form of technology."

Once built, the Darlington SMR will avoid around 740,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year, according to OPG. It is also expected to spearhead similar projects in Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Alberta, and will also support Canadian efforts to become a global SMR technology hub in a market estimated to be CAD150 billion per year by 2040.

With an approved Environmental Assessment already in place, the site is the only location in Canada currently licensed for new nuclear.

The CIB has to date committed some CAD5 billion towards clean power, renewables, district energy, storage, interties, and transmission.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News