Canada is launching a new funding program to help promote the commercial deployment of small modular reactors (SMRs). The announcement was made Feb. 23 at the Canadian Nuclear Association’s annual conference.

The program would provide $29.6 million over four years to develop supply chains for SMR manufacturing and fuel supply and security. Funding would also be used for research on safe SMR waste management solutions.

Eligible applicants could include private companies, utilities, provinces and territories, universities and Indigenous groups.

The Canadian government has put its support in small nuclear to support decarbonizing provincial grids and heavy-emitting industries, as well as help remote communities transition away from diesel.

In January 2023 GE Hitachi (GEH), Ontario Power Generation (OPG), SNC-Lavalin and Aecon inked a commercial contract for a 300 MW SMR at OPG’s Darlington new nuclear site. The reactor would be Canada’s first SMR.

GEH would provide the reactor design, engineering licensing support, construction, testing, training and commissioning for its BWRX-300 SMR.

The BWRX-300 is a 300 MWe water-cooled, natural circulation SMR with passive safety systems that leverages the design and licensing basis of GEH’s ESBWR boiling water reactor. It is currently undergoing a CNSC pre-licensing Vendor Design Review.

A few months prior to the contract signing, the Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB) committed C$970 million ($708 million) in debt financing toward the Darlington SMR. This is the bank’s largest investment in clean power to date.

The CIB-financed phase 1 work covers all preparation prior to nuclear construction, including project design, site preparation, procurement of long lead-time equipment, utility connections, digital strategy and other project management costs.

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