The Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB) has finalised an agreement with Ontario Power Generation (OPG) and committed $970 million towards Canada’s first small modular reactor (SMR).
OPG is developing and constructing the 300MWe SMR next to OPG’s existing 3,500MWe Darlington Nuclear Generating Station in Clarington, Ontario.
"We know nuclear energy, including from SMRs, is an essential part of the electricity mix to help meet our climate change goals,” said OPG President and CEO Ken Hartwick. “This low-interest financing helps us advance the Darlington New Nuclear Project, paving the way for development and deployment of the next generation of nuclear power in Canada."
The CIB-financed Phase 1 work covers all preparation required prior to nuclear construction, including project design, site preparation, procurement of long lead-time equipment, utility connections, implementation of a digital strategy, and related project management costs. OPG aims to become a net-zero carbon company by 2040 and a catalyst for achieving a net-zero economy by 2050. The Darlington SMR is expected to be one of the first ever developed and will spearhead similar projects in Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Alberta, with interest also growing in the USA and Europe.
The project will also support Canadian efforts to become a global SMR technology hub in a market estimated to be $150 billion a year by 2040.
Canada Infrastructure Bank CEO Ehren Cory said: “Energy experts say there is no path to bringing the world’s carbon emissions to zero by 2050 without nuclear. The CIB’s $970 million investment will help OPG construct Canada’s first small modular reactor. As our largest clean power investment, we are supporting technology which can accelerate the reduction in greenhouse gases while also paving the way for Canada becoming a global SMR technology hub.”
With an approved Environmental Assessment already in place, the Darlington site is the only location in Canada licensed for new nuclear. The Darlington New Nuclear Project is being managed in a gated approach, subject to OPG board approval at each gate.
A 2020 study undertaken by the Conference Board of Canada shows strong economic benefits from construction and 60 years of operation of a single SMR facility.
According to the report, direct, indirect employment would result in an annual average of approximately 700 jobs during project development; 1,600 jobs during manufacturing and construction; 200 jobs during operations; and 160 jobs during decommissioning.
Image: A GE-Hitachi BWRX-300 small modular reactor (courtesy of GE-Hitachi)