New multi-billion dollar modular nuclear reactor coming to Clarington’s Darlington plant

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Published December 3, 2021 at 11:45 am

GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) has been tapped by the provincial government to build the first new nuclear reactor in more than 30 years.

The company will work with Ontario Power Generation (OPG) to develop a BWRX-300 small modular reactor (SMR) at the Darlington site in Clarington that could be complete as early as 2028.

“We are thrilled to be selected by OPG as a technology partner,” said GEH CEO Jay Wileman. “OPG is Ontario’s climate change leader and is positioned to become a world leader in SMRs. Together, this partnership will bring jobs and economic benefits to Durham Region, Ontario and Canada, and potential global export of this technology.”

The project, which is expected to employ 700 jobs during development, 1,600 during construction and 200 more during its approximate 60-year life, is estimated to cost several billion dollars.

The announcement also comes at a time when the neighboring Pickering Nuclear Generating station is scheduled for closure.

“We know nuclear is a key proven zero emissions baseload energy source that will help us achieve net zero as a company by 2040, and act as a catalyst for efficient economy-wide decarbonization by 2050,” said Ken Hartwick, OPG’s President and CEO. “By moving forward, with our industry-leading technology partner GE Hitachi, on deployment of innovative technology for an SMR at Darlington, OPG is paving the way on the development and deployment of the next generation of nuclear power in Canada and beyond.”

Advanced nuclear technologies like the BWRX-300 are a key pillar of GE’s energy platform. The BWRX-300, which does not use CANDU technology, produces no carbon during operation and has been designed to achieve construction and operating costs that are substantially lower than traditional nuclear power generation technologies. Specifically, the BWRX-300 leverages a unique combination of a new, patented safety breakthrough, proven components, the licensing basis of the U.S. NRC-certified ESBWR and an existing, licensed fuel design.

In addition to the climate benefits the BWRX-300 stands to deliver, GE’s partnership with OPG has the potential to bring substantial economic opportunity to Ontario and Canada. Headquartered in Ontario, GEH SMR Technologies Canada, Ltd. (GEH SMR Canada), has created 80 highly skilled jobs to support the deployment of the BWRX-300 in Canada and around the world.

“We plan to continue to create many skilled, high-paying jobs in Ontario as we build our BWRX-300 team,” said Lisa McBride, Country Leader, GEH SMR Canada.

In addition to the direct job creation, an independent report by PwC Canada, commissioned by GEH, estimates that the construction and operation of the first BWRX-300 in Ontario is expected to generate approximately $2.3 billion in Gross Domestic Product (GDP), $1.9 billion in labour income and more than $750 million in federal, provincial and municipal tax revenue over its lifespan.

GE’s support for the Canadian nuclear industry dates to the early 1950s. The company helped build the first Canadian nuclear power plant, the Nuclear Power Demonstration (NPD) reactor that became the basis for the entire CANDU fleet. Today, GE Hitachi is partnering with several Canadian firms as it builds a supply chain to support deployment of the BWRX-300.

There is significant and growing global interest in the BWRX-300. In addition to Canada, GEH has agreements in place with utilities and companies in the U.S. Poland, Estonia and the Czech Republic to explore deployment of the technology.

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