The report says next-generation nuclear reactor power plants have enormous potential to replace fossil fuel plants in Canada’s and the world’s energy grids.
It warns, however, that Canadian suppliers, as a group, will probably only fully realise the significant benefits of SMR development and deployment if a made-in-Canada, Generation IV SMR technology is chosen.
The report, commissioned by Terrestrial Energy, stresses that the extent to which Canada and Ontario are able to capture the benefits will depend on the SMR technology chosen for the Darlington project and the benefits are unlikely for a SMR technology developed outside of Canada because they will accrue instead to the country-of-origin.”
Terrestrial Energy announced on September 14 its upgraded IMSR400 power plant, which consists of twin integral molten salt reactors and generators to produce 390 MW of electricity from one facility. The IMSR400 is one of three SMR power plant designs under consideration by OPG for deployment at Darlington. It is one of two Generation IV SMR technology candidates under consideration and the only Canadian SMR technology candidate.
The other SMRs under consideration are GE Hitachi’s BWRX-300 and X-energy’s Xe-100 SMR.
The report says exporting commercial nuclear power plant technology could contribute more to the Canadian economy than motor vehicle manufacturing by 2050.
Hatch estimates that the design and construction of a single IMSR400 at Darlington alone is expected to create over CAD3bn (€2.08bn, USD2.41bn) in total GDP over the nine-year design and construction phase and support an average of 2,100 total jobs per year. In addition, the operation of the plant will generate over CAD4.5bn in GDP over its operating life and 580 total jobs for the Canadian economy each year in operation.
Over the life of the Darlington plant, Hatch estimates that an IMSR400 power plant at Darlington would generate nearly CAD6.6bn of GDP for Ontario and CAD7.9bn of GDP for the Canadian economy.
The Darlington plant will be one of the first commercial SMRs in the world and as a consequence it will serve as a reference plant for future SMR deployments, Hatch says.
In October, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission renewed OPG’s existing site preparation licence for a new nuclear project at Darlington – allowing OPG to do work aimed at preparing the site for construction of a potential future SMR.
Ken Hartwick, OPG’s president and chief executive officer, said an SMR could be in place in time to help meet future energy demand. He said the 10-year licence renewal allows OPG to do work aimed at preparing the site for construction of an SMR including excavation and grading, installation of services and utilities for future buildings, and construction of service buildings.
In November 2020, OPG, which owns and operates the Pickering and Darlington nuclear stations in Ontario, announced it was resuming planning activities for a new nuclear power reactor at its Darlington site with an SMR scheduled for possible completion by 2028.