Country ‘leading way’ on next-generation nuclear technologies Ontario Power Generation and X-energy have signed an agreement to look for opportunities to deploy the Xe-100 high-temperature, gas-cooled reactor at industrial sites in Ontario and identify further potential end users and sites throughout Canada.

The companies said the partnership will “lead the decarbonisation of industrial applications through the deployment of Xe-100 SMRs”.

US-based X-energy said it developed and designed its Xe-100 reactor by building and improving on decades of high-temperature gas reactor research, development, and operating experience.

The Generation IV reactor is scalable to meet demand and one unit can generate up to 80 MW of electricity from 200 MW of thermal power. It efficiently produces steam at 565 °C and offers “highly flexible co-generation options”, making it the ideal candidate for decarbonising multiple industrial processes and supporting end-user power needs.

As a pebble bed HTGR, the Xe-100 would use Triso particles encased in graphite pebbles as the fuel and helium as the coolant.

X-energy said Canada is “leading the way” on global SMR opportunities driven by climate change mitigation and energy security imperatives.

An action plan by the Department of Natural Resources, also known as Natural Resources Canada, shows the market having an estimated global value of CAD150bn (USD114bn, €114bn) per year by 2040 with SMRs being used to replace coal-fired generation, to provide heat and power for mines, to provide steam for heavy industry and for remote island nations and off-grid communities.

Plans Call For First Units By End Of Decade

In December 2020 Canada’s federal government launched an SMR Action Plan which called for the development, demonstration and deployment of SMRs with the first units potentially operating in the late 2020s.

Four provincial governments are pushing ahead with a plan to develop nuclear power in Canada with calls for the federal government to back ambitious plans for SMRs and a new class of Generation IV micro-SMR for remote communities and mines.

The provinces are calling for a grid-scale SMR project of 300 MW constructed at the Darlington nuclear site in Ontario by 2028 with subsequent units to follow in Saskatchewan.

In October 2021 the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission OPG’s existing site preparation licence for a new nuclear project at Darlington – allowing OPG to do work aimed at preparing the site for construction of a potential future SMR.

In 2021 OPG chose GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy as its technology partner on a new SMR planned for Darlington, with the first grid-scale BWRX-300 plant scheduled to be completed by 2028.

OPG owns and operates four commercial nuclear power plants at the Darlington nuclear station and six at the Pickering station.

Date: Friday, 15 July 2022
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