Canada sets out actions needed to commercialise SMRs

21 December 2020

The Canadian government has released a national Small Modular Reactor (SMR) Action Plan, which responds to the 53 recommendations identified in the country's SMR Roadmap that was launched in November 2018. The plan lays out the next steps for the development, demonstration and deployment of SMRs for multiple applications at home and abroad.

Seamus O'Regan during the online launch of the SMR Action Plan

According to Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), the global market for SMR technology is expected to exceed CAD150–300 billion (USD116-232 billion) by 2040.

Released on 18 December by Canadian Minister of Natural Resources Seamus O'Regan the SMR Action Plan provides concrete actions for the government of Canada to ensure robust policy, regulatory and legislative frameworks are in place to: protect people and the environment; accelerate innovation; continue meaningful engagement with Indigenous communities and all Canadians; and, develop international partnerships and open up new markets.

"The roadmap asks the questions, and the action plan gives the answers. It builds on the 53 recommendations of the roadmap and goes beyond that," O'Regan said. "Canada can be a world leader in this promising, innovative, zero-emissions energy technology, and this is our plan to position ourselves in an emerging global market."

"Not only will we be able to complete the transition to a fully clean electricity grid in Canada, but we can help move steel, cement, oil and gas, mining and agriculture to non-emitting sources," Canadian Nuclear Association President and CEO John Gorman said. "With first-mover advantage in SMR commercialisation, Canada can secure a pre-eminent role as the world leader in the export of clean technology on a scale to help meet global Paris targets. That's a legacy."

NRCan said the Action Plan is the result of a pan-Canadian effort "bringing together key enablers from across Canada, which we call 'Team Canada' - the federal government, provinces and territories, Indigenous Peoples and communities, power utilities, industry, innovators, laboratories, academia, and civil society". Each of these has contributed a chapter to the Action Plan. Collectively, the chapters demonstrate the "breadth of engagement" on SMRs across the country, NRCan said.

The nuclear industry is ready to work with and enable governments to meet their climate change targets "by working with other non-emitting energy sources to provide clean electricity," NRCan said. "We need to invest aggressively right now with the non-emitting sources of power we have and invest in technologies like SMRs because climate change requires us to act now."

In November 2018, the Canadian government released its SMR Roadmap, a 10-month nationwide study of SMR technology. That report concluded that Generation IV SMR development is a response to market forces for "smaller, simpler and cheaper" nuclear energy, and the large global market for this technology will be "driven not just by climate change and clean energy policies, but also by the imperatives of energy security and access."

In October 2020, the Minister for Innovation, Science & Industry announced a CAD20 million investment in Terrestrial Energy to accelerate development of its Integral Molten Salt Reactor, the first grant from Canada's Strategic Innovation Fund.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News