Canadian budget aims to streamline nuclear licensing process

17 April 2024

The Canadian government has announced measures in its latest budget "to help get nuclear projects built in a timely, predictable, and responsible fashion".

The 2024 Federal Budget was unveiled in the House of Commons by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland on 16 April.

It notes: "Nuclear energy will play a key role in achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. Canada is a Tier-1 nuclear nation with over 70 years of technological leadership, including our own national reactor technology, and a strong domestic supply chain that includes the world's largest deposit of high-grade natural uranium.

"Our government is taking action to support the growth of nuclear energy, including through the Clean Electricity investment tax credit, the Clean Technology Manufacturing investment tax credit, the Strategic Innovation Fund, the Canada Infrastructure Bank, and an updated Green Bond Framework that includes certain nuclear expenditures."

The budget announces measures to help clarify and reduce timelines for major projects, so they can get built faster. These include setting a three-year target for nuclear project reviews, by working with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and Impact Assessment Agency of Canada, and considering how the process can be better streamlined and duplications reduced between the two agencies.

The budget proposes to provide CAD3.1 billion (USD2.2 billion) over 11 years, starting in 2025-26, with CAD1.5 billion in remaining amortisation, to Atomic Energy of Canada Limited to support Canadian Nuclear Laboratories' ongoing nuclear science research, environmental protection, and site remediation work.

Commenting on the budget, the Canadian Nuclear Association said: "While there are few new commitments or announcements that impact the nuclear energy sector, the budget in many places reinforces the government's clear support for nuclear by confirming a series of announced policies and financial commitments intended to support a rapid build out of nuclear over the coming decades."

Around 15% of Canada's electricity comes from 19 Candu nuclear power reactors, mostly in Ontario. For many years the world's biggest producer of uranium - until it was overtaken by Kazakhstan - the country's 2022 output of 7351 tU ranks it as second in the list of the world's uranium suppliers.

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) plans to build Canada's first commercial, grid-scale small modular reactor (SMR) - GE Hitachi's BWRX-300 - at the Darlington site, eyeing commercial operation starting in 2029. In July last year, the Ontario government announced it is working with OPG to begin planning and licensing for three additional BWRX-300 SMRs, for a total of four, at the Darlington plant site.

The Ontario government has also started pre-development work to build up to 4800 MWe of new nuclear capacity at Bruce Power's existing site, in what would be Canada's first large-scale nuclear build in more than 30 years.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News