Agreement to study SMR use in northern Ontario

09 April 2018

The use of small modular reactors (SMRs) for remote communities and mines in northern Ontario will be studied following the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Bruce Power, Laurentian University and Mirarco Mining Innovation. The five-year, CAD1 million (USD786,000) research agreement will create an Industrial Chair position at Mirarco.

Bruce-Mirarco-Laurentian Uni MOU - 460 (Bruce Power)
Glenn Thibeault, back left, Ontario's Minister of Energy; and Pierre Zundel, Interim President and Vice-Chancellor at Laurentian University. Front left: Rui Wang, Vice-President Research Laurentian University; James Scongack, Bruce Power's Vice President, Corporate Affairs & Environment; and Vic Pakalnis, President and CEO Mirarco Mining Innovation (Image: Bruce Power)

Mirarco (for Mining Innovation Rehabilitation and Applied Research Corporation) is a not-for-profit company set up in 1998 at Laurentian University to develop innovative sustainable energy solutions for the mining industry and remote communities.

Mirarco President and CEO Vic Pakalnis said: "The chair position will allow Mirarco to further explore the use of SMR application to remote mining operations. By welcoming Bruce Power into the fold, it will support increased research mining safety and align further research with Laurentian Mining Innovations and Technology, allowing for dedicated time to foster research excellence. Northern Ontario will benefit from this strategic investment by the capacity to recruit a chair of high calibre, who is internationally renowned in the field of sustainable energy solutions."

The partners said in a joint statement: "This collaboration is a continuation of the work Bruce Power has already been doing in the area, when it committed CAD5 million in funding in 2016 to the Northern Ontario School of Medicine to conduct health research, specifically in relation to radiation and the environment."

Mike Rencheck, Bruce Power President and CEO, said SMRs could play a role in safely powering the most remote northern communities that do not have adequate electrical grid infrastructure. "Right now, some of the most remote northern communities are serviced by diesel generators and other unsustainable methods that could be replaced by SMRs, or other low-carbon energy sources."

He added, "Bruce Power wants to be at the forefront of nuclear power's future, and, by joining forces with the sustainable energy research community, we can help to guide and focus their efforts as SMRs become a viable option for these communities."

Bruce Power is participating in the Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) efforts to create an SMR roadmap for deployment of new, long-term, clean energy supply options. According to NRCan, the roadmap aims to foster innovation and establish a long-term vision for the industry, as well as to assess the characteristics of different SMR technologies and their alignment with Canadian requirements and priorities. The roadmap is expected to be completed in the autumn.

"Ontario has been and continues to be a leader when it comes to clean and sustainable energy," said provincial energy minister Glenn Thibeault. "Investing in research for sustainable and low-carbon energy sources, right here in Sudbury, is a key part of our commitment to securing a clean energy future in remote Northern Ontario communities."

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News