Canada supports SMR development with funds for Terrestrial Energy

19 October 2020

Rendering of the IMSR® Core-unit (Credit: Terrestrial Energy)The Canadian Government said that, “as a global leader in nuclear energy and nuclear safety, Canada is poised to be a leader in the safe and responsible development of small modular reactor (SMR) technology”. It added: “SMRs are expected to play a key role in Canada’s efforts to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and in providing economic benefits as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry Navdeep Bains announced a CAD20 million ($15.1 million) investment that will enable Ontario-based Terrestrial Energy “to take a critical step toward commercialising its cutting-edge SMR technology, creating significant environmental and economic benefits for Canada”. The contribution is being made through the Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF), a programme designed to attract and support high-quality business investments across all sectors of the economy.

“The Government of Canada supports the use of this innovative technology to help deliver cleaner energy sources and build on Canada’s global leadership in SMRs,” said Bains “By helping to bring these small reactors to market, we are supporting significant environmental and economic benefits, including generating energy with reduced emissions, highly skilled job creation and Canadian intellectual property development.”

Minister of Natural Resources Seamus O’Regan said SMRs “are a game-changing technology with the potential to play a critical role in fighting climate change and rebuilding our post COVID-19 economy”.

The investment will help Terrestrial Energy to complete a key pre-licensing milestone through the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) to assess the acceptability of the Generation IV technology that the company is developing as part of its $68.9 million Integral Molten Salt Reactor project. As part of the investment, the company has committed to creating and maintaining 186 jobs and creating 52 co-op positions nationally.

In addition, Terrestrial is spending at least another $91.5 million in research and development. Throughout the two and a half year project, Terrestrial will engage with Canada’s nuclear supply chain, potentially creating over a thousand jobs nationally, the Government said. The project supports the Government’s Innovation and Skills Plan “by building a highly skilled workforce and advancing research in new foundational technology—a key component for future economic growth and innovation”. It also supports Canada’s SMR Roadmap, which outlines a long-term vision for the development and deployment of this technology.

“The Government of Canada is progressing with clear purpose to national deployment of SMRs, and it recognises the great industrial and environmental rewards from nuclear innovation today,” said Terrestrial Energy CEO Simon Irish. “We thank ministers Bains and O’Regan for their vision, leadership and partnership as we advance our programme to deliver affordable and cost-competitive nuclear energy to Canadian industry and households using Generation IV reactor innovation.”

Terrestrial Energy said this is the first such investment from the SIF announcing support for a SMR, and is directed to a developer of innovative Generation IV nuclear technology. “The company’s IMSR® power plant will provide high-efficiency on-grid electricity generation, and its high-temperature operation has many other industry uses, such as zero-carbon hydrogen production.” On 6 October, Ontario Power Generation (OPG) said it was advancing engineering and design work with Terrestrial Energy and two other SMR developers - GE Hitachi, and X-energy.

Terrestrial Energy recently awarded L3Harris Technologies a contract to develop an engineering and operator training simulator for the IMSR. L3Harris’ participation in the construction of Canada’s Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship Program underway at Halifax Shipyard was a contributing factor in the partnership. The National Shipbuilding Strategy ensures investment in Canadian businesses, organisations, research and more throughout the life of the programme, both inside and outside the shipbuilding industry. 

Photo: Rendering of the IMSR® Core-unit (Credit: Terrestrial Energy)

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