Capital Power and Ontario Power Generation (OPG) have entered into an agreement to jointly assess the development and deployment of grid-scale small modular reactors (SMRs) to provide nuclear energy for Alberta.

Through the agreement, the two companies say they will examine the feasibility of developing SMRs in Alberta, including possible ownership and operating structures. Still a novel concept, SMRs are being pursued by jurisdictions in Canada and elsewhere to address the growing demand for clean electricity and energy security.

OPG is building what it calls North America’s “first fleet” of SMRs at its Darlington New Nuclear site in Ontario. The construction of the first of four SMRs is expected to be completed by the end of 2028, and the unit online by the end of 2029.

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GE Hitachi (GEH) will provide the reactor design, engineering licensing support, construction, testing, training, and commissioning for the BWRX-300 SMR, to be located at OPG’s Darlington site. 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.

Capital Power and OPG will complete the feasibility assessment within two years, while continuing to work on the next stages of SMR development. Capital Power owns approximately 7,700 MW of power generation capacity at 30 facilities across North America.

The governments of Alberta, Ontario, Saskatchewan, and New Brunswick jointly released a Strategic Plan in 2022 for the deployment of SMRs. Also in 2022, OPG filed an application for a license to build a 300 MW SMR at the Darlington site. The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission renewed OPG’s license for the Darlington site in 2021, allowing OPG to work on the site for 10 years.

Last November, OPG and its commercial subsidiary, Laurentis Energy Partners (LEP), announced they are collaborating with SaskPower to advance Saskatchewan’s first small modular reactor (SMR).

The five-year agreement, which builds on existing collaboration between the utilities, would help streamline SMR development in Saskatchewan. Under the agreement, LEP would focus on program management, licensing and operational readiness activities. OPG and SaskPower have both selected the GE Hitachi BWRX-300 SMR for potential deployment. The first of four SMRs are expected to be completed by the end of 2028, and online by the end of 2029.

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