Companies team up to build Canada’s first SMR

1 February 2023

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) is teaming up with GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, SNC-Lavalin, and Aecon to construct a small modular reactor (SMR) at Canada’s Darlington New Nuclear Project site. Under the agreement, the four companies will provide a diverse range of expertise and services as part of an integrated project delivery model. The aim is to develop, engineer and construct GE Hitachi’s BWRX-300 SMR, for completion by late 2028.

The Darlington site is the only Canadian location licensed for new nuclear, with an accepted Environmental Assessment and a Site Preparation Licence. In December 2021, OPG and GE Hitachi agreed to work together to deploy the BWXR-300 at the Darlington site.

The project will also support Canadian efforts to become a global SMR technology hub in a market estimated to be worth $150 billion a year by 2040.

All parties will manage the project as an integrated team and each company will play a specific role in the project. OPG, as licence holder, will maintain overall responsibility for the project, including operator training, commissioning, Indigenous engagement, stakeholder outreach and oversight. Technology developer GE Hitachi will be responsible for design, procurement of major components, and engineering and support. Architect engineer

SNC-Lavalin is to provide design, engineering and procurement support. Aecon, which will build the SMR, will provide construction planning and execution.

Site preparation is now underway at the Darlington site and OPG has applied to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission for a Licence to Construct. The Darlington SMR is expected to spearhead similar projects in Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Alberta, with interest also growing in the US and Europe.

“Working with these three companies, OPG is leveraging decades of nuclear energy and large project experience to deliver much-needed new, reliable electricity generation to Ontarians,” said OPG President & CEO Ken Hartwick. “Construction of the Darlington SMR will create jobs and help ensure we meet Ontario’s growing energy needs as electrification and a growing economy drive demand.”

Energy Minister Todd Smith noted: “Canada’s first grid-scale SMR at the Darlington site will help ensure a reliable, affordable and clean electricity system, increase export opportunities and support our success in driving electrification and attracting unprecedented investments in Ontario.”

Image: GE Hitachi’s conceptual rendering of the BWXR-300 SMR to be built at the Darlington nuclear plant site in Ontario, Canada (courtesy of Ontario Power Generation)

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