Canada’s ARC Clean Technology, Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP) and New Brunswick Power (NB Power) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on collaboration for the commercialisation of ARC’s SMR technology in Canada, South Korea, the US and other jurisdictions where KHNP has business operations.

ARC, in partnership with NB Power, aims to commission an ARC-100 unit at the Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station by the end of the decade. In June NB Power submitted a licence to prepare site application to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, making it one of only three SMR projects in Canada to submit such a licence application. ARC plans to manufacture ARC-100 units in New Brunswick for export to other jurisdictions, creating economic benefits for the province.

KHNP operates 25 nuclear power units supplying approximately 30% of South Korea’s electric power. The company has also constructed four nuclear power units in United Arab Emirates on time and on budget and has offices in New York, Washington, Paris, Tokyo, Abu Dhabi and Prague. The opportunities for collaboration to be explored under the MOU could include participation in current and future projects by providing specific expertise for the design, construction, project management, commissioning, operation, and maintenance of ARC’s SMR in multiple countries.

ARC President & CEO, Bill Labbe says the agreement is acknowledgment of the opportunity for ARC technology on a global scale. “This agreement builds on the successful partnership we have established with NB Power in the Canadian market, and is the first step towards our companies working together to bring the ARC-100 to a global market,” he said. ARC Clean Technology has offices in Saint John, New Brunswick and Washington, DC.

NB Power President & CEO Lori Clark welcomed the collaboration and expansion of existing partnerships and potential future commercialisation opportunities. “Small modular reactors are a key part of NB Power’s solution to phase out coal by 2030 and achieve net-zero supply by 2035, while maintaining energy security,” she said. “This is an example of our Strategic Plan: Energising our Future in action, finding new, cleaner and greener energy solutions and building partnerships.

Jooho Whang, KHNP CEO would offer significant momentum for entering the Generation 4 SMR market. “While our tripartite collaboration is in its early stages, I am confident that, leveraging our extensive know-how gained through 40 years of development and operation of nuclear reactors both at home and abroad, we can advance strengthened by a solid partnership with NB Power and ARC Clean Technology.”

Since 2018, ARC and NB Power have been working together on the development of the ARC-100, a modular 100 MWe integrated sodium-cooled fast reactor with a metallic uranium alloy core. The design is based on the Experimental Breeder Reactor-II (EBR-II) fast reactor prototype which operated at the USA's Argonne National Laboratory from 1961 to 1994. ARC Nuclear signed an agreement with GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy in March 2017 to collaborate on the development and licensing of an SMR using proprietary technology from GEH's PRISM reactor, which is also based on the EBR-II.

However, all fast reactor projects in Europe and North America were essentially abandoned in the 1970s and 1980s and had effectively ceased in Europe and the US by the 1990s. Although interest in fast reactor technology is now reviving in Europe and the USA, both through collaborative projects and government support for private company initiatives, it remains at the design phase. The projected operation dates for the ARC-100 may, therefore, prove to be optimistic. Currently fast reactor development continues apace only in Russia, China and India, where there are now five fast reactors in operation and five more under development.

Image: ARC Clean Technology CEO and President Bill Labbe (L); NB Power CEO Lori Clark; and Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power CEO Whang Joo-ho (R) at the signing ceremony (courtesy of KHNP)