Ontario Power Generation selected GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy to help build a small modular reactor at its existing Darlington nuclear power plant, the first new reactor on Canadian soil in more than three decades.
OPG has selected GE Hitachi’s BWRX-300 reactor. The utility will make the announcement Thursday morning, alongside Energy Minister Todd Smith.
North Carolina-based OPG and GE Hitachi to collaborate on engineering, design and planning to build and complete the first commercial small grid-scale modular reactor, or SMR from 2028, according to a press release. The estimated price could reach $ 3 billion.
The announcement is a triumph for GE Hitachi and a setback for the competition. OPG is one of the few utilities in the world with firm plans to build an ABM and great expertise in operating nuclear power plants.
Terrestrial Energy of Oakville, Ontario, and X-energy, a US supplier, had previously been nominated. In an interview this summer, an executive at NuScale, another US vendor with a relatively mature SMR design, said his company was also in contention and had “prioritized” the Canadian market.
Saskatchewan officials have indicated that they plan to build reactors of the same design selected by OPG, so the announcement could lead to further sales.
The selection of a foreign supplier marks a new chapter for the Canadian nuclear industry. The four power plants in operation in the country are all equipped with CANDU reactors, or Canada Deuterium Uranium, of in-house design. For months, competing suppliers touted partnerships with Canadian suppliers and the economic benefits they would bring; last month, Terrestrial urged Ontario to select its reactor “over technology developed outside of Canada.”
The Ontario government has been promoting the use of PMRs as a means of delivering clean nuclear power, with a single ABA of around 300 megawatts capable of avoiding up to 2 megatonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year. The province also says it will create hundreds of jobs and increase revenues by nearly $ 900 million.
In December 2019, Ontario Premier Doug Ford, along with the premiers of New Brunswick and Saskatchewan, signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding to collaborate on small modular reactors, a project that he says them, would produce clean energy at low cost. Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe told reporters the reactors would not be built for five to ten years, but would help provinces cut carbon emissions and move away from non-renewable energy sources such as than coal.
In its annual review of developments in the global nuclear industry released in September, Paris-based consultancy Mycle Schneider Consulting maintained its long-standing skepticism about SMRs. “This year’s update does not reveal any major progress but some modest progress,” he noted.
Overall, there are additional delays in development and construction, and no new design certification beyond an already obsolete NuScale design in the United States. There is therefore no new sign of a major breakthrough for SMRs, neither technologically nor commercially. “
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