Construction of a new generation of small nuclear reactors in Canada
December 09, 2021

Construction of a new generation of small nuclear reactors in Canada

Canada has 19 nuclear reactors in operation. In 2020, they produced 14.6% of its electricity. It is also committed, along with many other countries, to reduce its net carbon emissions to zero by 2050. Like these other countries it has been boosting renewables in its energy mix, but what sets Canada apart from the rest is that it plans to add a powerful new source to the mix: Small Modular Reactor (SMRs), which can be deployed faster than conventional ones at a lower cost per unit of output.

Ontario Power Generation (OPG), the largest power supplier in the province of Ontario, has selected GE Hitachi to build the first SMR at Darlington, the only site in Canada currently licensed for a new nuclear reactor. “We're excited to move forward with GE Hitachi and develop something here that all of us can be proud of and perhaps showcase to the rest of the world on how a new nuclear project can be done really well,” said Ken Hartwick, president and CEO of OPG, during a press conference.

Ontario Power Generation has selected GE Hitachi to build the first SMR at the Darlington Nuclear Power Plant

"OPG is paving the way on the development and deployment of the next generation of nuclear power in Canada and beyond,”said Hartwick, adding that nuclear power will help OPG achieve its net-zero carbon emissions goal by 2040.

Construction of a new generation of small nuclear reactors in Canada
The BWRX-300 small module reactor (Photo: GE Hitachi)

The new SMR will pave the way for the next generation of nuclear power in Canada and beyond

Todd Smith, Ontario Minister of Energy, is confident that GE Hitachi's design is “perfectly sized to help jurisdictions around the world move off emitting resources like coal.” And Jay Wileman, president and CEO of GE Hitachi, called the decision “a significant and concrete action in the fight against climate change that will also create jobs across Ontario and Canada as we leverage the robust and growing nuclear supply chain.”

GE Hitachi has already started building partnerships with many local companies and suppliers, including First Nations Power Authority (FNPA), to tap into talent inside Canada’s Indigenous communities.

The new project will help to create jobs across Ontario and Canada

The new SMR to be built in Canada is the BWRX-300, which is also is under consideration for projects in the U.S., Poland and Estonia. GE plans to use the experience in Canada to shape the future of SMRs, according to Lisa McBride, GE Hitachi's country leader for SMRs in Canada.

GE Hitachi wants make Canada become first global center of excellence for this technology. “Canada has significant nuclear energy sector experience and is a global leader in the commercial nuclear power industry,” says Ms. McBride.

Canada has significant nuclear energy sector experience and is a global leader in the commercial nuclear power industry

Cover photo: The Darlington site, north of Lake Ontario in Darlington, Canada (Photo: OPG)