OPG advances towards SMR deployment

06 October 2020

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) has today announced plans to pave the way for the deployment of small modular reactors (SMRs) by advancing engineering and design work with three developers of grid-scale SMRs: GE Hitachi (GEH), Terrestrial Energy and X-energy. At the same time, GEH has entered into MoUs with five Canadian companies to set up a supply chain for its SMR.

X-energy's Xe-100 design (Image: X-energy)

"OPG is leveraging more than 50 years of nuclear experience to support the development of carbon-free nuclear technology. Our work with these three developers, along with our partnership with Global First Power and its SMR project to support remote energy needs, demonstrates OPG's unique position to become a world leader in SMRs," said OPG President and CEO Ken Hartwick. "SMRs will play a key role in helping to invigorate Ontario's economy and further support the province and Canada as they work toward meeting their climate change targets of zero-emission electricity."

OPG, in collaboration with other major energy utilities, recently completed a due diligence process to advance the development of an SMR in Ontario that would pave the way for the potential deployment of SMRs in other jurisdictions. It is consistent with a "pan-Canadian" approach to the development and deployment of next-generation clean technology, OPG said.

Canada's federal Department of Natural Resources in November 2018 issued a roadmap for the development of SMRs in the country, and last year the provinces of Ontario, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan signed an MoU to work together to support the development and deployment of SMRs. Alberta has also signalled its intention to join the MoU.

Deploying SMRs in Ontario would capitalise on the province's existing nuclear supply chain but could also enable other provinces to move away from coal; provide alternative energy options to benefit energy intensive industries; drive job creation and innovation; facilitate deep, economically sustainable reductions in greenhouse gas emissions; and accelerate the transition from fossil fuels to a zero-emissions electrical grid in Canada, the company said.

Ontario Minister of Energy, Mines and Northern Development Greg Rickford said Ontario's nuclear expertise and "first-mover capability" positions both the province and the country to "lead the world" in SMR development. "OPG's extensive nuclear operating expertise and infrastructure project management experience paves a clear path forward to lead on a Canada-wide SMR effort," he said.

X-energy is developing the Xe-100 SMR, an 80 MWe high-temperature reactor which would be scalable to a "four-pack" plant generating about 320 MWe. The company earlier this year initiated a Vendor Design Review for the reactor with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC). Terrestrial Energy's 192 MWe Integral Molten Salt Reactor has already completed the first phase of the CNSC's review process. GEH made the first submittals for the VDR of its BWRX-300 water-cooled SMR in February.

Supply chain

GEH said it will provide detailed information on the design process, licensing, scheduling and contracting that will help inform OPG on options for siting an SMR in Ontario. It also announced today that it had entered into MoUs with Canadian companies Aecon Nuclear, BWXT Canada Ltd, Hatch Ltd, Black & Veatch and Overland Contracting Canada Inc (a Black & Veatch Company) to establish a Canadian supply chain to support potential BWRX-300 construction and provide future services and components. The MoUs will cover cooperation in, for example, construction, engineering, modularisation and manufacture of safety-related components.

"We are excited about working with OPG and Canadian suppliers to fulfill our vision to construct and operate a BWRX-300," GEH President and CEO Jay Wileman said. "We also believe this technology can serve other provinces that are looking to nuclear energy to help Canada meet its decarbonisation goals."

Simon Irish, CEO of Terrestrial Energy, said OPG’s selection reflected the "already extensive" due diligence and the merits of the company's IMSR design. "We and our Ontario and Canadian supply chain partners look forward to working closely with OPG on IMSR development and deployment," he said.

X-energy CEO Clay Sell said the due diligence process was one of the most comprehensive his company has been through, addressing technology, licensing, supply chain and corporate matters. "OPG has demonstrated incredible leadership in advancing reliable and affordable low-carbon options," he said.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News