Staff car park unveiled as Canadian MMR's planned location

15 May 2023

Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL), Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) and Global First Power (GFP) have announced a repurposed parking lot at the Chalk River campus as the location where they plan to build and operate a demonstration Micro-Modular Reactor (MMR).

Senior leaders from AECL, CNL and GFP were joined by local elected officials, industry partners and other distinguished guests to unveil the site of the proposed reactor on 11 May (Image: AECL)

The 15 MWt (5 MWe) demonstration plant will deploy Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation's (USNC) MMR technology at the Ontario site, which is owned by AECL and managed by CNL. It will be the first commercial deployment of private sector funded small modular reactor (SMR) technology in Canada, and is intended as a model for future SMR deployments to support remote and industrial applications.

GFP President & CEO Jos Diening said the site demonstrates the "unique suitability" of the technology to become fully integrated into remote and industrial facilities and their operations. "These are precisely the qualities that make advanced nuclear microreactors essential in decarbonising beyond the electric grid," he said.

CNL President and CEO Joe McBrearty said the announcement of the site was "incredibly exciting" for AECL, CNL and GFP and Canadians. "Once constructed, this proposed reactor can demonstrate the economics, safety and performance of a new and exciting SMR technology, giving the public confidence in this next-generation nuclear solution. Overall, I believe that this location could go down in history as one of many at the Chalk River Laboratories where first-of-a-kind nuclear technologies were brought to life," he said.

The announcement reflects a shared commitment to advancing the clean energy technologies which are critical in the fight against climate change, AECL Vice-President of Science, Technology and Commercial Oversight Amy Gottschling said. "The Chalk River Laboratories have been at the forefront of nuclear innovation for more than 70 years, and we continue to push the envelope, leveraging science to solve problems and benefit Canada and the world."

The chosen location means good access to campus utilities and to CNL's technical and operational support services. Once the reactor is operational, CNL may also be able to use the energy produced both for campus operations and research activities, the companies said.

GFP submitted an application for a site preparation licence to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission in 2021, and work on an environmental assessment for the project is under way. The company's project timeline currently envisages site preparation and construction beginning in 2025, subject to the necessary approvals, with operations beginning in 2027.

GFP is a joint venture launched in 2020 by USNC and Ontario Power Generation to build, own and operate an MMR at the Chalk River Laboratories site. In addition to the Chalk River project, the MMR is also under consideration for the Ontario campus of McMaster University.

USNC has also signed agreements to develop and deploy its high-temperature reactor technology in Poland, Korea, Finland and the USA.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News