First Canadian SMR licence application submitted

02 April 2019

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) has received the first licence application for a small modular reactor. The application from Global First Power (GFP), with support from Ontario Power Generation and Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation (USNC), supports a proposal to deploy a Micro Modular Reactor plant at Chalk River in Ontario.

The Chalk River Laboratories campus, pictured in 2015 (Image: CNL)

The companies today announced their submission of the application, which is in response to an invitation issued in April 2018 by Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) to SMR project proponents for the construction and operation of an SMR demonstration unit at a CNL-managed site. GFP's proposal in February became the first to advance to the third stage of CNL's four-step review process, meaning the partners have been invited by CNL to take part in preliminary, non-exclusive discussions regarding land arrangements, project risk management, and contractual terms.

The MMR is a 15 MW (thermal), 5 MW (electrical) high-temperature gas reactor, drawing on operational experience from reactors developed by the USA, Germany, China and Japan. According to World Nuclear Association information, the reactor uses fuel in prismatic graphite blocks and has a sealed transportable core. The reactor completed the first phase of the CNSC's pre-licensing vendor design review process in January.

MMR technology would serve as a model for future off-grid SMR deployment in Canada, to provide low-carbon energy and heat to remote industry and northern communities, the partners said. This is one of the potential SMR applications highlighted in Canada's 2018 SMR Roadmap, which provides the framework for future SMR deployment in Canada.

"MMR plants will provide huge benefits to Canada: more reliable and economic clean power supply to remote mines and communities," GFP CEO Joe Howieson said. "Our proposal to CNL offers a 'first-of-a-kind in Canada' technology to facilitate this."

The application for a licence to prepare a site for an SMR at Chalk River was submitted on 20 March, CNSC said. The regulator's licensing process begins with a "sufficiency review" of the application. If and when the project description is assessed as complete, the next step for the regulator would be to issue a notice of commencement. The project description would then become available for public comment as part of the environmental assessment process.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News