Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP), Canada-based ARC Clean Technology and New Brunswick Power (NB Power) have signed a non-binding trilateral Collaboration Agreement to further cooperation with the goal of establishing teaming agreements for global small modular reactor (SMR) fleet deployment. The agreement was signed at the Reuters SMR and Advanced Reactor 2024 Conference in Atlanta, Georgia.

KHNP, ARC, and NB Power began exploring potential areas of collaboration for a global fleet deployment of ARC’s advanced SMR in 2023. Through a 2023 memorandum of understanding, the three companies have been exploring collaboration opportunities for the commercialisation of ARC's ARC-100 design in Canada, South Korea, the USA and other jurisdictions where Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP) has business operations.

The ARC-100 is a Generation IV advanced sodium-cooled fast reactor intended for on-grid and industrial applications. The planned first deployment of the ARC reactor is an on-grid commercial demonstration unit serving NB Power, one of Canada’s three nuclear operators, at the site of the Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station.

ARC and NB Power have been working together since 2018, on development of the ARC-100. In July last year, NB Power, in partnership with ARC, submitted an environmental impact assessment registration document and an application for a site preparation licence for an SMR at the Point Lepreau NPP site in New Brunswick. The demonstration unit is slated for commissioning by 2029, subject to approvals and licensing. The deployment of the ARC-100 in New Brunswick is part of a strategic plan on SMR development and deployment announced in 2022 by the governments of Ontario, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Alberta. The ARC-100 is currently undergoing the second phase of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission's pre-licensing Vendor Design Review process, having completed the first phase in 2019.

The new agreement establishes firm commitments to deliverables, processes, and timelines to advance discussions for participation and potential investment in the deployment of ARC units, starting with the commercial demonstration unit in the Province of New Brunswick.

“While we focus our capabilities on technological development for Korea's Innovative SMR (i-SMR) to have the highest level of competitiveness in the world, we are pushing for timely entry into the 4th generation SMR market" said KHNP CEO Dr Jooho Whang. He added: “Global cooperation is necessary for accelerating the development and construction of 4th generation SMRs, and the strengths of the leading companies in Canada as well as KHNP will lead to synergy in cooperation.”

Bill Labbe, President & CEO of ARC Clean Technology Canada said ARC “is seeing significant growth and interest from multiple heavy industries and global jurisdictions for use of our technology”. He added: “Together, ARC, KHNP and NB Power will be first movers in the industry with a turnkey solution for commercial deployment.”

Lori Clark, President & CEO and Chief Nuclear Officer of NB Power noted: “Small modular reactors are an important part of NB Power’s strategic plan to meet government mandates to phase out coal by 2030 and achieve net-zero supply by 2035. The agreement with KHNP and ARC will assist us in deploying the clean energy we need to meet our climate goals and maintain energy security for New Brunswickers. In addition, we are excited about what this could mean for potential future commercialisation opportunities.”

The Canadian companies are aiming for the commissioning of an ARC-100 unit at the NB Power’s Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station by the end of 2030. However, Western expertise in fast reactor technology is limited with most development programmes cancelled in the 1970s. Currently fast reactors are operating commercially only in Russia, while both China and India have demonstration reactors in operation.

Image: Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power CEO Whang Joo-ho (right) poses with NB Power CEO Lori Clark (centre), and ARC Clean Technology CEO and President Bill Labbe after signing a partnership for a new small modular reactor construction project in the Canadian province of New Brunswick (courtesy of Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power)