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Announcement is second in recent days related to proposals for new nuclear in province of Ontario

A total of four BWRX-300 SMRs are now planned for deployment at the Darlington site east of Toronto. Courtesy GEH.

Ontario has announced that it is working with Ontario Power Generation (OPG) to begin planning and licensing for the deployment of three additional GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) BWRX-300 small modular reactors (SMRs) at the Darlington nuclear site.

A total of four BWRX-300 SMRs are now planned for deployment at the site east of Toronto, GEH said in a statement.

The announcement came soon after utility Bruce Power said it would be starting early work to expand the Bruce nuclear station in Ontario, potentially building the world’s biggest commercial nuclear facility as growing demand for low-carbon energy spurs interest in nuclear power.

The Ontario government said last week Bruce Power will carry out an environmental assessment for adding as much as 4.8 GW of capacity to its Bruce station in Ontario, Canada’s most populous province. The facility’s eight Candu reactors have almost 7 GW (gross) of capacity and supply 30% of the province’s power.

The OPG announcement about three potential additional units builds on January’s announcement about a contract to build a single BWRX-300 at OPG’s Darlington site, the first commercial contract for a grid-scale SMR in North America.

Electricity demand in Ontario is rising for the first time since 2005, the government said. It has already implemented a plan to meet rising demand in the current decade, but Ontario's Independent Electricity System Operator said in a report last year that the province could need to more than double its electricity generation capacity from today’s 42,000 MW to 88,000 MW by 2050.

The report recommended that Ontario begin planning, siting and environmental assessment work for long-lead assets, including nuclear power.

Lifetime Extension Projects Underway

Canada has a fleet of 19 commercial nuclear power plants that provide about 14% of its electricity generation. Major projects have begun to extend the lifetime of reactors at the Bruce, Darlington and Pickering stations.

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, nuclear energy is the second largest source of non-emitting electricity in Canada, with its 19 reactors producing approximately 15% of Canada’s electricity supply.

Canada is also the world’s second largest uranium producer, with over 8% of total world production coming from mines in Saskatchewan in 2020. Most of Canada’s uranium production is exported for use in nuclear power throughout the world.

Last year four provinces published ambitious plans for the deployment of SMRs, calling for the federal government to back ambitious deployment plans and a new class of Generation IV micro-SMR for remote communities and mines.

Also last year the government announced funding of up to CAD5m (€3.4m, $3.7m) for research and development projects that support provinces and territories as they work to develop and deploy SMRs as part of their decarbonisation and economic development plans.

Utility SaskPower has chosen two sites in Saskatchewan for the potential construction of an SMR.

Date: Tuesday, 11 July 2023
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