Ontario Power Generation (OPG) filed an application for a license to build a 300 MW small modular reactor (SMR) at the Darlington site, where it plans to build Canada’s first commercial, grid-scale SMR.

Site preparation work – including non-nuclear infrastructure activities, such as clearing and grading parts of the site to build roads, utilities and support buildings – began in October and is planned to extend into 2025.

The license application was filed with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) on October 31 and was developed between OPG and GE Hitachi, which designed the BWRX-300. 

The regulatory review process includes opportunities for Indigenous Nations and Communities and the public to discuss the application, ask questions and raise areas of interest, OPG said, culminating in a public hearing, held by the CNSC. That is likely to take place in 2024.

The Darlington site is currently the only site in Canada licensed for a new nuclear build, with an accepted environmental assessment and site preparation license. OPG said it expects to make a construction decision by the end of 2024. It set a preliminary target date of 2028 for plant operations.

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.

If built, the Darlington SMR would be one of the first developed and could spark similar projects in Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Alberta, with interest also emerging in the U.S. and Europe.

The Canada Infrastructure Bank recently committed C$970 million ($713 million) toward the Darlington New Nuclear Project in the bank’s largest investment in clean power to date, providing greater financial certainty and signaling federal support for the project.

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