Small Modular Reactors

Canada / OPG Applies For Licence To Build First SMR At Darlington Site

By Kamen Kraev
2 November 2022

GE Hitachi to provide technology for project
OPG Applies For Licence To Build First SMR At Darlington Site
The first unit could be ready for operation at Darlington in 2028. Courtesy GEH/OPG.
Canadian utility Ontario Power Generation (OPG) has submitted a construction licence application to the national nuclear regulator which could pave the way to the deployment of a small modular reactor (SMR) at the site of the Darlington nuclear power station.

OPG said in a statement the application consists of several packages which will be consecutively provided to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) over the next six months.

The company said the application has been jointly prepared in partnership with GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH), which has proposed its BWRX-300 SMR for deployment at Darlington.

In December 2021, OPG selected GEH as its technology partner for its Darlington SMR project. The first grid-scale plant is scheduled to be completed by 2028.

OPG said nuclear-related works can begin at Darlington only after the CNSC grants a construction licence. This new licence submission comes after site preparation activities began in early October.

Site preparation works are expected to continue into 2025 and consist of non-nuclear infrastructure activities, such as clearing and grading a portion of the new nuclear site to build roads, utilities and support buildings, said OPG.

The Darlington SMR will be one of the first ever developed and is expected to spearhead similar projects in Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Alberta, with interest also growing in the US and Europe.

GEH’s BWRX-300 is a 300-MW water-cooled, natural circulation SMR with passive safety systems and based on an existing boiling water reactor design – the ESBWR – that is licensed in the US. It also uses an existing, licensed fuel design.

GEH has said the reactor will require significantly less capital cost per MW when compared to other water-cooled SMR designs or existing large nuclear reactor designs.

Darlington, north of Toronto on the shore of Lake Ontario, is the only site in Canada with an approved environmental assessment and regulatory licence for new nuclear. The station has four Candu 850 heavy water reactor units in commercial operation.

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