ARC SMR proposed for green energy hub at Canadian port

29 November 2022

The Belledune Port Authority (BPA) wants to use advanced small modular reactor (SMR) technology as part of a future expansion at the port in northern New Brunswick, and says an ARC-100 providing energy for hydrogen production and other industries could be in operation by 2030-2035.

ARC's vision of an ACR-100 plant (Image: ARC)

The BPA has announced it is working with project development company Cross River Infrastructure Partners on the proposal to use ARC Clean Technology Canada's (ARC) reactor design to generate a minimum of 1GW of zero-emission firm heat and power for industrial users at the port's recently announced Green Energy Hub. The project could reach commercial operation between 2030 and 2035, subject to feasibility studies, environmental approvals and licensing from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, it said.

The Green Energy Hub - a development district for clean energy projects, along with complementary, low-carbon industries to support regional economic growth - is a key piece of the BPA's long-term plans to transition away from declining traditional industries and toward a "more dynamic" and sustainable future. These were set out in its Master Development Plan 2022-2052, a 30-year roadmap published in October. BPA and Cross River have already agreed to develop a hydrogen facility powered by green-certified energy that would produce ammonia fuel for export, which is to be located at the Green Energy Hub.

The SMR project would see the development of an ARC-100 unit to serve as an energy source for expanded hydrogen production and other industries based at the port, such as metal fabrication and advanced manufacturing. The ACR is an 100 MWe advanced sodium-cooled fast neutron SMR, which is based on the Experimental Breeder Reactor-II integral sodium-cooled fast reactor prototype which operated at the USA's Argonne National Laboratory from 1961 until 1994.

"One of the key advantages of the ARC reactors is their ability to provide a tremendous amount of high temperature steam and power in a small space," Cross River CEO Andrew Wilder said. "As they are utilising proven technology, we believe the ARC-100 is the best advanced nuclear reactor to provide as an energy solution for heavy industry."

The ARC-100 has also been selected for a demonstration project at NB Power's existing Point Lepreau nuclear power plant site as part of a joint strategic plan for SMR deployment set out earlier this year by the provincial governments of Ontario, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Alberta Canada’s SMR Roadmap. The demonstration unit is slated for commissioning by 2029, subject to approvals and licensing. The proposed project in Belledune would provide added scale for New Brunswick and could serve as a model for ARC's technology to be used as a direct energy source for industry, the partners said.

"The ARC-100 unit uses an inherently safe and proven technology with relatively low cost of modular construction and operation," ARC Canada CEO Bill Labbe said. "It is an obvious choice for industrial implementation, and the Belledune application will make New Brunswick a leader in the development and deployment of small modular reactors in Canada and abroad."

BPA President and CEO Denis Caron said the SMR would be part of a portfolio of clean energy projects at the Green Energy Hub, along with new wind energy developments, solar and biomass as well as leading edge energy storage solutions, and anticipated significant First Nations and community interest in the project. "Maintaining and sustaining these relationships is critical to our collective success," he added.

The proposed project is in traditional Mi’gmaq territory, and the Pabineau and Eel River Bar First Nations are adjacent to the Port of Belledune.

"With the need for a baseline source of clean energy it makes sense to go to small modular reactor technology," Chief Terry Richardson of Pabineau First Nation said. "The fact that it can be utilised as a power source is a win for Cross River and other proponents developing hydrogen."

Chief Sacha Labillois of Eel River Bar First Nation also welcomed the opportunity to learn more about about SMRs. "Our community looks forward to engagement and consultation related to the environmental and economic benefits this development can bring to our region," he said.

The BPA is part of Canada's Port Authority network. As well as managing the infrastructure and assets of the Port of Belledune, situated on the Atlantic coast in Northern New Brunswick. As well as four marine terminals, industrial-zoned land and infrastructure, the authority holds more than 650 hectares of land adjacent to its main terminal facilities that is available for immediate development. NB Power's 467 MWe baseload coal-fired plant at Belledune is expected to close by 2030 in line with Canadian federal plans to phase out coal.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News