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OPG advances Small Modular Reactor deployment

Oct 7, 2020

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) has announced plans to pave the way for the deployment of small modular reactors (SMRs) by advancing engineering and design work with three developers of grid-scale SMRs: GE Hitachi (GEH), Terrestrial Energy and X-energy. At the same time, GEH has entered into MoUs with five Canadian companies to set up a supply chain for its SMR.

"OPG is leveraging more than 50 years of nuclear experience to support the development of carbon-free nuclear technology. Our work with these three developers, along with our partnership with Global First Power and its SMR project to support remote energy needs, demonstrates OPG's unique position to become a world leader in SMRs," said OPG President and CEO Ken Hartwick. "SMRs will play a key role in helping to invigorate Ontario's economy and further support the province and Canada as they work toward meeting their climate change targets of zero-emission electricity."

OPG, in collaboration with other major energy utilities, recently completed a due diligence process to advance the development of an SMR in Ontario that would pave the way for the potential deployment of SMRs in other jurisdictions. It is consistent with a "pan-Canadian" approach to the development and deployment of next-generation clean technology, OPG said.

Canada's federal Department of Natural Resources in November 2018 issued a roadmap for the development of SMRs in the country, and last year the provinces of Ontario, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan signed an MoU to work together to support the development and deployment of SMRs. Alberta has also signalled its intention to join the MoU.

Deploying SMRs in Ontario would capitalise on the province's existing nuclear supply chain but could also enable other provinces to move away from coal; provide alternative energy options to benefit energy intensive industries; drive job creation and innovation; facilitate deep, economically sustainable reductions in greenhouse gas emissions; and accelerate the transition from fossil fuels to a zero-emissions electrical grid in Canada, the company said.

Ontario Minister of Energy, Mines and Northern Development Greg Rickford said Ontario's nuclear expertise and "first-mover capability" positions both the province and the country to "lead the world" in SMR development. "OPG's extensive nuclear operating expertise and infrastructure project management experience paves a clear path forward to lead on a Canada-wide SMR effort," he said.

X-energy is developing the Xe-100 SMR, an 80 MWe high-temperature reactor which would be scalable to a "four-pack" plant generating about 320 MWe. The company earlier this year initiated a Vendor Design Review for the reactor with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC). Terrestrial Energy's 192 MWe Integral Molten Salt Reactor has already completed the first phase of the CNSC's review process. GEH made the first submittals for the VDR of its BWRX-300 water-cooled SMR in February.


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