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    GE Hitachi and 3 partners announce agreement for grid-scale SMR in Ontario, first in North America


    January 30, 2023 - Stephen Singer

     

      Dive Brief:

      -- An energy and construction partnership announced Friday an agreement to build the first grid-scale small modular reactor in North America. Terms were not disclosed. -- GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, Ontario Power Generation, SNC-Lavalin and Aecon Group signed a contract to deploy a BWRX-300 small modular reactor at OPG's Darlington New Nuclear Project site in Clarington, Ontario. -- GEH will design the reactor and provide engineering licensing support, construction, testing, training and commissioning. The Darlington SMR BWRX-300 reactor will provide up to 300 MW(e). Dive Insight:

      OPG will be the license holder and maintain responsibility for the project, including operator training, commissioning, stakeholder outreach and oversight, Aecon Group said. SNC-Lavalin is the architect and engineer and Aecon Group will provide construction services, including project management, construction planning and execution.

      Site preparation and related work have begun and the SMR is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2028, Aecon Group said.

      The BWRX-300 is designed to reduce construction and operating costs below other nuclear power generation technologies, GEH said. It uses a combination of fuel available in operating reactors and does not require high-assay low-enriched uranium. GEH also says its design is based on reactor technology already licensed and proven components.

      Jean-Louis Servranckx, president and CEO of Aecon Group, said nuclear power and SMRs are "integral to Aecon's growth strategy and will play a significant role in advancing global progress towards achieving sustainability targets and a net-zero economy by 2050."

      Sean Sexstone, executive vice president for Advanced Nuclear at GEH, said it's the first commercial contract for a small modular reactor in North America and is a "significant milestone in deploying SMRs in Canada and across the globe."

      The Tennessee Valley Authority last August began planning and preliminary licensing for possible deployment of a BWRX-300 at the Clinch River Site near Oak Ridge, Tennessee. TVA is collaborating with OPG to advance SMR technology and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission are working together to license the two projects, according to GEH.

      In addition, Saskatchewan Power Corp. said in June it selected the BWRX-300 for possible deployment in Saskatchewan in the mid-2030s.

      The NRC on Jan. 19 certified NuScale Power's small modular reactor design, the first of its type to win federal approval. The design is an advanced light-water SMR with each power module able to generate 50 MW.

      Critics say SMRs, which are advanced nuclear reactors with a power capacity of up to 300 MW(e), according to the International Atomic Energy Agency, are financially feasible only because of large taxpayer subsidies. Detractors also say solar and wind power, which do not produce waste, can be deployed more quickly than SMRs.

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