Canada’s SMR review process sees two project begin due diligence

21 February 2019

Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) said on 15 February that Canada-based StarCore Nuclear and US-based Terrestrial Energy had completed the prequalification stage of the process to site a small modular reactor (SMR) demonstration unit at one of its managed campuses, and had been invited to enter the due diligence stage.

In June 2017, CNL asked for expressions of interest in SMRs and received responses from 80 organisations around the world, including 19 expressions of interest in siting a prototype or demonstration reactor at a CNL-managed site. CNL aims to have a new SMR constructed on its Chalk River site by 2026.

In April 2018 CNL launched its SMR review process and invited project proponents to evaluate the construction and operation of a demonstration SMR project at one of its sites. This included the pre-qualification stage in which CNL evaluated the "technical and business merits of proposed designs, assess the financial viability of the projects, and review the necessary national security and integrity requirements". That invitation remains open, CNL said, with rounds of intake periods expected to occur twice a year.

StarCore has proposed a 14 MWe high-temperature gas reactor and Terrestrial its 195 MWe Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR). Global First Power (GFP) with its partners Ontario Power Generation and Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation, which is proposing a 5 MWe high-temperature gas reactor, has already completed the second stage of the invitation process. GFP  has been invited to embark on the third stage, which involves preliminary, non-exclusive discussions regarding land arrangements, project risk management, and contractual terms.  

The fourth and final stage will be project execution, including construction, testing and commissioning, operation and ultimately decommissioning of the SMR unit. "It is important to note that all projects are subject to regulatory processes and requirements. The licensing process is entirely independent of CNL's invitation and evaluation stages," CNL said. The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission is conducting pre-licensing vendor design reviews for ten small reactors with capacities in the range of 3-300 MWe. This is an optional service to assess a nuclear power plant design based on a vendor's reactor technology.

Two days earlier on 13 February, Terrestrial Energy announced the participation of leading members of the nuclear supply chain and industry in its Nuclear Innovation Working Group. The working group will advise Terrestrial Energy during Phase 2 of its Vendor Design Review programme and on the development and deployment of the IMSR. The group comprises Bruce Power, Burns & McDonnell, SNC-Lavalin, EVP and Candu Energy, Corporate Risk Associates Limited, Kinectrics, Laker Energy Products, Promation, and Sargent & Lundy.

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