Small Modular Reactors

Canada / OPG Announces Collaboration On Three SMR Designs

By David Dalton
7 October 2020

Company wants to become ‘world leader’ in next-generation reactor technology
OPG Announces Collaboration On Three SMR Designs
One of the technologies to be evaluated is GEH’s BWRX-300. Courtesy GEH.
Ontario Power Generation is advancing engineering and design work with three developers of grid-scale small modular rectors as it seeks to become a world leader in the SMR sector.

The company, which owns and operates the Pickering and Darlington nuclear stations in Ontario, said it would be collaborating with GE Hitachi (GEH), Terrestrial Energy and X-energy.

OPG has chosen three SMR technologies for further evaluation. They are GEH’s BWRX-300, Terrestrial Energy’s Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR) and X-energy’s Xe-100 SMR. The three technologies were chosen after a due diligence proves held in collaboration with other major energy utilities.

“Our work with these three developers, along with our partnership with Global First Power and its SMR project, demonstrates OPG’s unique position to become a world leader in SMRs,” said Ken Hartwick, the company’s president and chief executive officer.

OPG said its plans for SMR development and deployment were “consistent with a pan-Canadian approach to the development and deployment of next generation clean technology”.

In 2018 Canada’s federal Department of Natural Resources issued a roadmap for the development of SMRs in the country. In December 2019 the provinces of Ontario, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan signed an agreement to work together to support the development and deployment of SMRs. In August, Alberta signalled its intention to join the agreement. The provinces said they want to work together on the development and deployment of “innovative, versatile and scalable” SMRs that will “unlock economic potential across Canada, including rural and remote regions”.

OPG said nuclear power is the backbone of Ontario’s electricity system. SMRs, like traditional nuclear reactors, are designed to provide safe, reliable, carbon-free electricity, and offer lower capital cost and faster deployment than current reactors. By generating from 1MW to 300 MW of energy, SMRs are expected to be a reliable alternate energy source to replace diesel in rural communities and mines and to eliminate the need for coal plants.

GEH said it intends to develop a domestic supply chain to support the project and has entered into agreements with five Canadian companies: Aecon Nuclear, BWXT Canada Ltd, Hatch Ltd, Black & Veatch and Overland Contracting Canada Inc.

Last month Canada’s minister of natural resources Seamus O’Regan said nuclear energy is likely to play a central role in Canada’s clean energy transition with SMRsors at the forefront of Ottawa’s plans as the country aims for net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

“There is simply no credible scenario for Canada to reach its goal of net zero emissions by 2050 without nuclear power,” Mr O’Regan told the 11th Clean Energy Ministerial conference in Saudi Arabia. He said nuclear would be at the “front and centre” of Canada's clean energy plans.

He said Canada has its own domestic Candu reactor technology to build on and is planning to deploy SMR technology.

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