The Canadian Nuclear Association (CNA) on 7 November welcomed the release of "A Call to Action: A Canadian Roadmap for Small Modular Reactors," the result of a pan-Canadian, multi-stakeholder study launched in early 2018.

The report announced at the Generation IV and Small Reactor (G4SR) conference in Ottawa, was the outcome of an initiative launched in February by Canada's Department of Natural Resources. The process involved expert analysis, consultation with industry and end users, and  engagement with indigenous communities and organisations. It includes more than 50 recommendations cover, waste management, regulatory readiness and international engagement.

Preparation of the Roadmap was guided by the SMR Roadmap Steering Committee, which involved representatives from Alberta Innovates, Bruce Power, the New Brunswick Department of Energy and Resource Development, New Brunswick Power, the Northwest Territories Department of Infrastructure, the Ontario Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines, Ontario Power Generation, Qulliq Energy Corporation, and SaskPower. CNA set the stage for the Roadmap in 2017 by releasing CNA's "Vision 2050: Canada's Nuclear Advantage", which described how Canada's nuclear industry sees its role in leading SMR manufacture and deployment in Canada.

The Roadmap outlines the potential applications for SMRs in Canada, which include providing clean and reliable electricity and heat to smaller and/or remote communities such as in Canada's north; clean process heat and electricity for resource industries such as Ontario's Ring of Fire mining and Alberta's oil sands; and clean electricity to existing power grids, particularly those needing clean energy to replace fossil fuels for their base-load electricity generation.

"The Roadmap lays the groundwork for Canada to lead in the development of innovative low-carbon nuclear technologies of the future," noted CNA President and CEO Dr John Barrett. It addresses key questions and requirements on the road to SMR deployment through technical workshops, initial dialogues with Indigenous communities and organisations, and expert analysis by five working groups, it. Over 180 individuals representing 55 organisations were involved in its development. 

Dr Barrett said CNA looks forward to moving ahead on three recommendations. These include the co-creation of a Nuclear Energy Advisory Council with the Government of Canada; increased outreach to other clean energy industries to ensure appropriate representation of nuclear energy in broader clean energy dialogues; and continued support for Canadian industry representation and influence on the international stage.

The report proposes action on four fronts: 

  • Demonstration and Deployment, includes calling on the federal government, and provincial governments interested in SMRs, to provide funding to cost-share with industry in one or more SMR demonstration projects for advanced reactor designs. Federal and provincial governments should implement measures to share risk with private investors to incentivise the first commercial deployment of SMRs in Canada, with the potential of exporting SMR technologies and related innovations developed in Canada to international markets.
  • Policy, Legislation and Regulation, identifies priority actions under the Canadian impact assessment process, to ensure that nuclear liability limits for SMRs are aligned with the risks they pose; regulatory engagement; and action on waste management, including engagement of technology vendors with Canada's Nuclear Waste Management Organisation to ensure that planning for a deep geological repository is well-informed by the technical specifications of SMR technologies.
  • Capacity, Engagement, and Public Confidence, prioritises indigenous engagement.
  • International Partnerships and Markets focuses on frameworks for strong and effective international engagement on SMRs.

The report said Canada "has what it needs to seize the opportunity but the time for action is now". Nuclear plant refurbishments under way in Ontario and a revitalised nuclear science campus at Chalk River, give Canada "the opportunity to leverage [its] longstanding leadership in nuclear energy to make this happen". The report's recommendations are being reviewed by the Canadian government.

Canadian support for NuScale

Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) last year announced plans for a new SMR at its Chalk River site by 2026, and co-hosted an SMR Vendor Roundtable on the margins of the G4SR conference. Ontario Power Generation will support US-based small modular reactor developer NuScale Power in its vendor design review process with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, a statement by NuScale said.

At the G4SR conference, NuScale Power announced that Ontario Power Generation (OPG) had agreed to support NuScale in its vendor design review (VDR) for its SMR with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC). The two companies signed a memorandum of understanding on the agreement, which will support the further evaluation of development, licensing, and deployment of the first NuScale power plant in Canada.  CNSC offers the pre-licensing VDR as an optional service to assess NPP design based on a vendor's reactor technology. In February CNSC received NuScale's application for a review of the self-contained 50MWe integral pressurised water reactor (PWR) and is now developing a service agreement before setting a start date for the review. The NuScale SMR is intended to supply energy for electrical generation, district heating, desalination, and process heat applications. 

NuScale's SMR is also undergoing design certification review by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) which said in January 2017 that the design was for a reactor building that holds 12 PWR modules for a total output of 600MWe. CNL President and CEO Mark Lesinski said Canada's mature nuclear supply chain and "vibrant pool" of skilled, innovative companies gives the country a distinct advantage in the deployment of SMR technology.

Photo: NuScale SMR