OPG applies for construction licence for Darlington SMR

02 November 2022

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) has submitted an application for a Licence to Construct a small modular reactor (SMR) at the Darlington site, where it plans to build Canada's first commercial, grid-scale SMR.

A rendering of a BWRX-300 plant (Image: GEH)

This licence is required before any nuclear construction work on the SMR at Darlington can begin. Site preparation work - which consists of non-nuclear infrastructure activities, such as clearing and grading parts of the site to build roads, utilities and support buildings, and for which the site is already licensed - began in October and is planned to continue into 2025.

The Licence to Construct application, lodged with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) on 31 October, was developed collaboratively between OPG and GE Hitachi, the designer of the BWRX-300. A number of information packages will be submitted to the CNSC in sequence, over the next six months.

According to the CNSC, a Licence to Construct requires an applicant to demonstrate that the design of the proposed facility "conforms to regulatory requirements and will provide for safe operation over the proposed plant life, and responsibility for all activities pertaining to design, procurement, manufacturing, construction and commissioning."

The regulatory review process includes opportunities for Indigenous Nations and Communities and the public to discuss the application, ask questions and raise areas of interest, OPG said, culminating in a public hearing, held by the CNSC. This is likely to take place in 2024.

The Darlington site is the only site in Canada currently licensed for a new nuclear build, with an accepted environmental assessment and site preparation licence. OPG expects to make a construction decision by the end of 2024 and has set a preliminary target date of 2028 for plant operations.

The BWRX-300 is a 300 MWe water-cooled, natural circulation SMR with passive safety systems that leverages the design and licensing basis of GEH's ESBWR boiling water reactor. It is currently undergoing a CNSC pre-licensing Vendor Design Review.

The Canada Infrastructure Bank recently committed CAD970 million (USD713 million) towards the Darlington New Nuclear Project in the bank's largest investment in clean power to date, providing financial certainty and signalling federal support for the project.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News