New Candu design could boost Canadian GDP, report finds

25 June 2024

Construction of a four-unit Candu Monark plant would boost Canada's GDP by more than CAD90 billion (USD66 billion) and create thousands of jobs over the project's lifetime - and each unit built overseas would have a GDP impact of CAD4.8 billion. So says a new report from the Conference Board of Canada.

The independent report, which was commissioned by AtkinsRéalis, found that the manufacturing, engineering, and construction phase of four Candu Monark units would generate more than CAD40.9 billion of GDP impact for Canada, with CAD49.5 billion of GDP impact during the operation phase. It would generate the equivalent of more than 20,000 "full time, well-paying jobs" and more than 324,000 person-years of employment during manufacturing, engineering and construction and sustain 3,500 full-time equivalent jobs per year over a 70-plus year operating life. The report also found an additional CAD29.1 billion in additional tax revenue across municipal, provincial and federal governments over the life of the project.

AtkinsRéalis unveiled the Candu Monark, a Generation III+ reactor design, in November 2023. The natural uranium-fuelled reactor design builds on the design of currently operating Candu units and features a larger output of 1,000 MW, improved cost per megawatt-hour, a longer operating life of 70 years, and sustainable design principles to minimise environmental impact. The company says it is the easiest reactor design to build, operate and maintain in AtkinsRéalis's Candu nuclear portfolio.

The Candu supply chain underpins a Canadian nuclear ecosystem that already supports more than 76,000 stable and well-remunerated jobs across a wide variety of professional and skilled trades fields, the company said, and is "perfectly suited" to a new build of Monark reactors. The intellectual property for the design is 100% Canadian owned, and the domestic supply chain would benefit "strongly" from exporting the reactor, the report found.

"We have a world-class, made-in-Canada solution in Candu nuclear technology that will allow us to navigate the energy transition successfully and accrue many economic advantages for Canada," said AtkinsRéalis President, Nuclear, Joe St. Julian.

"As Ontario looks to ramp up capacity to meet the 18,000 MW of new nuclear power, large nuclear reactors like Candu reactors will be key to addressing the forecasted demand. Candu reactors will optimise the amount of energy provided from scarce grid-connected regions in Ontario, and if they are designed, built, supplied and serviced from within Canada, it is a win-win for all Canadians," AtkinsRéalis Executive Vice-President, Nuclear, Canada Gary Rose said.

All of Canada's currently operating nuclear power plants use Candu - taken from Canada Deuterium Uranium - technology. The pressurised heavy water reactor design was developed by federal Crown corporation Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd (AECL), in cooperation with Canadian industry, from the late 1950s onwards and the first commercial unit began operation in 1971. AtkinsRéalis is the original equipment manufacturer of Candu technology (SNC-Lavalin Group Inc rebranded to AtkinsRéalis in 2023).

The government of Ontario last year announced the start of pre-development work to build up to 4800 MWe of new nuclear capacity at Bruce Power's existing site, in what would be Canada's first large-scale nuclear build in more than 30 years, in addition to plans to deploy small modular reactors in Ontario, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Alberta.

In February, AtkinsRéalis launched the Canadians for CANDU campaign to promote the deployment of Candu nuclear technology at home and abroad in support of Canadian and global efforts to reach net-zero emissions.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News