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Government of Canada

Government  of Canada

Overview

Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) are an opportunity for Canada to deliver on its energy priorities, while unlocking a range of complementary benefits: environmental, economic, geopolitical and social. The Government of Canada recognizes that it has a role to play in supporting this emerging innovative sub-sector, and in enabling Canada to seize these benefits.

It comes as no surprise that Canada has emerged as a leader in SMRs. For over 75 years, we’ve been pioneers: from becoming only the second country to produce nuclear energy, developing our home-grown CANDU technology and exporting it around the world, to leading advancements in nuclear medicine that are saving lives around the world. In fact, we’ve been recognized on the global stage for our nuclear expertise and a quarter of our Nobel Prizes have been related to nuclear science.

We see SMRs as the next step in building on that heritage. At an early stage, we recognized the potential for this emerging area of nuclear innovation and understood the importance of strategic partnerships to capture the SMR opportunity. That’s why, in 2018, we convened Canada’s SMR Roadmap, a ten-month cross-country conversation on Canada’s SMR opportunity that brought together provincial and territorial governments, power utilities, industry and other interested stakeholders to chart a path forward for this technology in Canada. The report made over 50 recommendations, which Canada’s SMR Action Plan responds to and builds on.

Since the launch of the Roadmap, momentum for SMRs in Canada has only increased:

  • Dozens more partners have become involved for the first time, including from Canada’s mining and oil and gas sectors seeking opportunities to bolster their competitiveness and reduce emissions;
  • At the end of last year, we were pleased to see the Premiers of Ontario, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan come together through an agreement to collaborate on SMR development and deployment, with Alberta soon to join;
  • The continued progress being made through the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission’s pre-licensing vendor design review process that provides SMR vendors with feedback on their designs at an early stage, with 12 currently involved; and
  • The invitation for SMR vendors to be considered for demonstration at one of Canada’s national nuclear laboratory sites, with Canada’s first SMR demonstration project now moving through an environmental assessment.

Canada’s SMR Action Plan comes at a time when Canada is transforming its economy to move toward net-zero emissions by 2050, with substantial contributions from the natural resource and energy sectors.

More specifically, SMRs have the potential to support Canada in its goals to reach net-zero by 2050; accelerate electricity decarbonization and move Canadians off coal and diesel; drive deep industrial decarbonization, including green mining; and in the future, provide an affordable, reliable and non-emitting alternative to diesel for remote communities, and open new applications for nuclear energy such as space exploration. At the same time, SMRs have the potential to create and sustain jobs, mobilize innovation, foster inclusive growth, advance Indigenous reconciliation, and support the growth of a diverse, inclusive and resilient workforce.

But we know that there is much more to do, and this federal chapter of Canada’s SMR Action Plan lays out the whole-of-government actions being taken to bring this innovative technology to fruition and lead the world on SMRs.

Canada’s SMR Action Plan captures these activities, as well as many others. For our part, the Government of Canada is committed to taking action using all parts of its toolkit. We are also ensuring that the federal legislative, regulatory, and policy framework is sound and ready for SMR deployment, while working with bilateral and multilateral partners to align international engagement and cooperation with Canadian priorities on SMRs. Finally, we also remain committed to supporting and enabling SMR research and development work to help advance designs move from demonstration to commercial deployment stages.

Each section of this chapter outlines a key aspect of Canada’s SMR opportunity.

Canada Has What It Takes

As one of a handful of countries with our own power reactor technology, we belong to an elite group of Tier 1 nuclear nations with capabilities that cover the full nuclear life cycle. Today, Canada is home to cutting-edge research facilities at laboratories and universities across the country that are prepared to support the development of this game-changing technology and build on our heritage of nuclear innovation.

But SMRs are more than just a technology innovation story. The successful deployment of SMRs will require the right markets, the right structures, the right expertise and the right plan. And Canada stands alone among competitors in having all of the key elements:

1. Regulatory:
An independent, world-renowned nuclear regulator open to innovation;
2. Sites:
Historic leadership in S&T with suitable sites for demonstration with facilities and expertise;
3. Operators:
Several experienced nuclear operators ready to partner;
4. Financing:
A mix of public and private financing;
5. Supply Chain:
A full-spectrum supply chain including strong engineering, procurement and construction firms and Indigenous businesses ramped up from the refurbishments in Ontario, and soon to be looking for new projects;
6. Demand:
A strong brand internationally; favourable markets and economics; significant interest for mining; community support and public confidence; and
7. Indigenous Partnerships:
Meaningful, two-way engagement and opportunities for benefits-sharing.

Already, we have a ramped up supply chain delivering the refurbishment of Ontario’s nuclear fleet, and experienced nuclear operators ready to partner to demonstrate this technology on site. We also have a world renowned regulator committed to safety and open to innovation, as well as a comprehensive plan to manage nuclear waste in the long-term. This combination of enabling elements, coupled with our commitment to nuclear excellence, results in a unique environment where Canada is poised to lead the world.

Part of Canada’s Climate Strategy

Climate change is the defining challenge of our time. To respond, and to meet our goal of reaching net-zero by 2050, Canada will need to act boldly, and nowhere is this more true than where we get our energy. Achieving net-zero will require a bold transformation of our economy, including a transition towards non-emitting energy throughout the country.

SMRs, which represent the next wave of innovative, affordable, and reliable nuclear power, offer the potential to expand the role of nuclear energy in Canada’s energy mix – to drive to net-zero emissions by 2050. Nuclear energy also contributes to reducing air pollution: in Ontario, for example, the phase-out of coal-fired power plants, enabled by the refurbishments of nuclear plants, reduced the number of smog days from 53 in 2005 to just two since 2014, the year the last coal plant closed.

And so, a range of SMR opportunities are being explored across the country – from supporting cleaner grids and replacing coal power generation, to decarbonizing heavy industry such as mining and the oil sands, to moving interested rural and remote communities off diesel. As a baseload, dispatchable and non-emitting source of energy, SMRs could also play a vital role in enabling deeper integration of variable renewables (e.g. wind and solar) into Canada’s energy mix, especially in regions without significant hydro resources. Several provinces that must phase out conventional coal-fired power plants are at a critical decision point for new electricity sources, and the commercialization of SMRs will allow these provinces to achieve and lock in a decarbonized energy mix.

On behalf of the Government of Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) is committed to leading the implementation of an overall whole-of-government plan for climate action, a cleaner environment and a sustainable economy. This is being accomplished through the Pan-Canadian Framework for Clean Growth and Climate Change, the proposed Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act and through Canada’s strengthened climate plan, A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy. Together, these will set Canada on a path to achieve a prosperous net-zero emissions future by 2050 and position Canada as a global leader.

A key commitment of the Pan-Canadian Framework for Clean Growth and Climate Change is to increase the amount of electricity generated from renewable and low-emitting sources. In developing plans to reach a net-zero economy, ECCC will consider the role that SMRs could play alongside other non-emitting technologies to decarbonize the electricity and industrial sectors.

A Driver of Economic Growth into the Future

SMRs are also an economic opportunity – to sustain and create good, middle class jobs, to support economic growth and diversification in regions across the country, to build on the ongoing refurbishment projects in Ontario, to anchor innovation within Canada, and to support Canada’s ongoing economic recovery.

The ongoing projects in Ontario to extend the life of the Darlington and Bruce nuclear plants have led to a ramped-up nuclear supply chain, creating thousands of new jobs. As these projects end in the late 2020s and early 2030s, SMR projects could present an opportunity to sustain this capacity into the long term, as found through Canada’s SMR Roadmap. In other regions throughout the country, including Atlantic, Western and Northern Canada, SMRs are an opportunity to develop a new economic driver supporting good, middle-class jobs, and the Government of Canada supports efforts to enable all regions to benefit from Canada’s SMR opportunity.

The Canadian mining industry also has a special interest in the development of SMR technology, as it is well-positioned to be a primary end-user and beneficiary of SMR technology. The industry recognizes SMRs’ potential long-term cost savings and environmental benefits for off-grid mining operations.

In particular, SMRs are well suited for mining in northern and remote regions due to (1) the greatly reduced ventilation requirements attributed to their non-emitting properties, and (2) they offer as much as a 20-60% energy cost advantage over diesel–the GHG-intensive energy standard–which is difficult to transport and supply consistently. The Canadian Minerals and Metals Plan (CMMP) has identified alternative and renewable energy as a key area for action. This includes the need to study the feasibility and role of SMRs in mining operations as a means to provide reliable energy and reduce GHG emissions and costs, as well as the potential market for this technology.

Much of the SMR technology developed for mining operations could also be used to support the Government of Canada’s priority to reduce the reliance on fossil fuels and transition rural, remote and northern Indigenous communities away from expensive, GHG-intensive diesel energy. Promoting engagement on SMR development will foster meaningful relationships with Indigenous and local communities.

At the same time, research into SMR technologies could lead to innovations that Canada might contribute to the international endeavour of human exploration of the Solar System, in particular to in-space propulsion and surface power solutions on the Moon and Mars.

Creating Opportunities for Canadian Exporters

While SMRs present a significant economic opportunity for Canada at home, there are even greater opportunities in the global export market, which Canada’s SMR Roadmap estimated at more than $150-300 billion per year by 2040. And, like we did with CANDU, where we supplied about 7% of the large reactor market, there’s no reason why we can’t do the same or more with SMRs: the Roadmap also found that Canadian companies are positioned to seize as much as 5-10% of this market. SMRs will help to build on the internationally-recognized nuclear brand Canada established with CANDU, and secure major new export opportunities for Canadian businesses, while continuing to explore CANDU opportunities into the future.

Global Affairs Canada (GAC) is the federal department responsible for Canada’s foreign policy, including international trade, development, and diplomatic relationships. The Trade Commissioner Service (TCS), represented globally in Canada’s diplomatic offices abroad, provides services and advice to help Canadian businesses succeed abroad, attracts foreign direct investment into Canada, and supports international partnerships in innovation, science and technology.

Of particular note to the future of SMR development, GAC is also responsible for Canada’s international obligations regarding nuclear non-proliferation and peaceful use of nuclear technologies, including nuclear safety and security. Canada also works with the international community in a multilateral setting to ensure Canada’s commercial interests and nuclear non-proliferation concerns are well balanced.

To help Canada secure a share of the emerging global SMR market, GAC will support Canadian SMR companies in their export-oriented objectives, providing international business development services led by the TCS in full respect of Canada’s nuclear non-proliferation policy. GAC will also work with its federal partners to ensure that the financial and business needs of Canadian SMR companies and innovators are met as part of their efforts to commercialize SMR technologies and reach international markets.

Forging Lasting Partnerships with Indigenous Peoples

The Government of Canada recognizes that genuine, meaningful partnerships with Indigenous Peoples are a critical component for Canada to capture the SMR opportunity. For that reason, in this Action Plan, the federal government is committing to actions that will not only ensure that Indigenous views on SMRs are heard and understood, but that we are on a path towards a framework whereby SMRs provide lasting and meaningful benefits to Indigenous communities.

These actions include ongoing, meaningful engagement, and ensuring that Indigenous representatives are included when Canada convenes the senior leadership of Canada’s SMR Action Plan to discuss strategic priorities going forward. This will ensure that the SMR opportunity builds a legacy of walking the path of reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples, based on the recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership as the foundation for transformative change.

Building the Workforce of the Future

Canada, through its diversity, quality of life and economic opportunity, is a magnet for skilled immigrants and fresh perspectives from around the world. Our nuclear sector, particularly through our cutting-edge university research infrastructure, continues to attract the best and brightest, helping to set Canada up for success and promotes growth.

At the same time, it is important to ensure diversity and representation within the energy sector, and to continue to encourage women, Indigenous and people of colour to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. The Government of Canada and its partners have put forward several initiatives aimed at increasing the participation of Canadians in STEM from childhood to high school to post-secondary to the workforce, including these under-represented groups.

As parts of its commitment to these objectives, the Government of Canada is proud to be a member of the “Equal by 30” campaign to work towards equal pay, equal leadership and equal opportunities for women in the clean energy sector by 2030, and welcomes the strong support from Canada’s nuclear industry, with dozens of organizations that have signed on and made commits to enhance diversity and representation in the sector, particularly among women. We salute the work of Women in Nuclear Canada (WiN-Canada) and the North American Young Generation in Nuclear (NAYGN) and plan to continue to work with them to help build the workforce of the future.

Our nuclear sector is supported by a robust supply chain primarily composed of small and medium-sized enterprises, many of which are owned and operated by women, Indigenous peoples and people of colour. Government of Canada encourages utilities, industry and others to take advantage of goods and services offered by these companies.

An Opportunity for Robust International Partnerships

Over the past six decades, the Government of Canada has successfully established and maintained strategic bilateral and multilateral partnerships around the globe to advance shared nuclear energy priorities. As one of a handful of countries with our own power reactor technology and full-spectrum nuclear capabilities, Canada belongs to an elite group of Tier 1 nuclear nations. With our demonstrated leadership and expertise in nuclear science and technology, we are in a position to lead and contribute to international partnerships to support the development and deployment of SMRs across the globe.

Canada is an active supporter of the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and maintains nuclear cooperation agreements (NCAs) with 48 countries, including members of the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom). Canada has also concluded various bilateral memorandums of understanding in support of greater cooperation, including on research and development (R&D), and sharing best practices and experience. We will continue to leverage these strong and robust partnerships to work together to share knowledge and convene discussions on policies and strategies to advance SMRs globally. In particular, the Government of Canada will explore opportunities for Canada to lead and contribute to international policy discussions on the development of international enabling frameworks for SMR deployment.

Canada also brings its nuclear expertise to multilateral organizations such as the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA), the international Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Generation IV International Forum (GIF), the international Framework for Nuclear Energy Cooperation (IFNEC) and the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM). Through active and productive participation in these organizations, Canada is able to advocate for and pursue activities that seek to surface international best practices and advance international R&D collaboration on SMRs. In recent years, Canada has co-led the development of the “Nuclear Innovation: Clean Energy Future” initiative (NICE Future) and the Flexible Nuclear Campaign at the CEM to advance the role that innovative nuclear energy technologies can play in meeting climate change goals. Canada will continue to pursue collaboration with partners under this initiative to explore the increasingly flexible role of SMR technologies.

Conclusion

SMRs are a real opportunity for our country. They bring the potential of a source of energy that could significantly contribute to reducing our GHG emissions, open new economic opportunities, and provide social and regional benefits.

With this Action Plan, the Government of Canada is signalling its near-term plans on this important technology, and is inviting all of its partners – provinces and territories, industry, utilities, laboratories and academia, Indigenous Peoples and civil society – to work together to make this vision a reality.

ACTIONS

DEMONSTRATION AND DEPLOYMENT
Federal support for SMRs
STATUS: IN PROGRESS
GC01

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 1, 2

ACTION

The Government of Canada has accepted the spirit of the Roadmap recommendation (#1) on cost-sharing SMR projects, and has acknowledged the recommendation (#2) on risk-sharing for first-commercial projects.

The Government of Canada understands the important role it has to play in advancing SMR technology in time for Canada to be a world leader and to provide a non-emitting alternative for jurisdictions that must phase out conventional coal-fired power plants by 2030. The Government of Canada also recognizes the leadership of provincial and territorial governments and power utilities in SMR deployment, and plans to continue working together to make Canada a world leader in SMR technology.

To that end, in October 2020, the Government of Canada announced a $20 million investment through the Strategic Innovation Fund that will enable Terrestrial Energy Inc., an innovative Ontario company, to take a critical step toward commercializing its cutting-edge SMR technology, creating significant environmental and economic benefits for Canada.

This investment is one part of the Government of Canada’s plans to promote Canada’s global leadership in SMRs by supporting Canadian research and bringing technologies to market that will create good jobs and economic prosperity.

EXPECTED RESULTS

  • Federal investment supports SMR projects moving forward in Canada.
POLICY, LEGISLATION AND REGULATION
Review of Canada’s Radioactive Waste Policy Framework
STATUS: IN PROGRESS
GC02

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 3

ACTION

The Government of Canada has acknowledged the Roadmap recommendation on radioactive waste risk-sharing. The Government of Canada understands the need for a robust framework to manage all of Canada’s nuclear waste in order to maintain the confidence of Canadians.

We have listened to recommendations that now is the time to review our radioactive waste policy. On November 16, 2020, the Government of Canada launched an engagement process to modernize Canada’s Radioactive Waste Policy. Between now and fall 2021 Natural Resources Canada will be conducting a review of Canada’s existing Radioactive Waste Policy. The Minister of Natural Resources is responsible for the Policy Framework and Natural Resources Canada officials will be leading the policy review. As part of the process, Natural Resources Canada officials will be engaging with stakeholders and talking to Canadians, including Indigenous peoples.

EXPECTED RESULTS

  • Canada’s radioactive waste policy aligns with international practices, the best available science, and reflects the values and principles of Canadians.
POLICY, LEGISLATION AND REGULATION
Canada’s SMR Action Plan
STATUS: COMPLETE
GC03

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 4

ACTION

The Government of Canada has accepted the Roadmap recommendation to finalize an SMR Action Plan.

The Government understands the need for coordinated action by all essential enablers if Canada is to be a world leader on SMRs. In response, in 2020, Natural Resources Canada convened partners from across the country to develop Canada’s SMR Action Plan, including a full response to the Roadmap’s recommendations.

EXPECTED RESULTS

  • Partners from across Canada outline their roles and plans on SMRs for the coming years.
  • Public and private decisions are informed by a strategic, action-oriented plan and investors have a clear signal of pan-Canadian buy-in.
  • The plan respects and builds on the respective roles and responsibilities of essential enabling partners and sets out timelines for action to maximize benefits to Canada.
POLICY, LEGISLATION AND REGULATION
Convening SMR Action Plan senior leadership
STATUS: UPCOMING
GC04

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 5

ACTION

The Government of Canada has accepted the spirit of the Roadmap recommendation and will meet annually with senior leadership of Canada’s SMR Action Plan. These meetings would convene the Canadian nuclear family, from mining to production, as well as Indigenous representatives.

Meeting annually and organized and chaired by Natural Resources Canada, with senior representation from provincial and territorial governments, portfolio partners, power utilities, Indigenous groups, and key industry association partners, the senior leadership will receive updates on progress under Canada’s SMR Action Plan and discuss top priorities and next steps.

EXPECTED RESULTS

  • Progress on development and commercialization of SMRs in Canada is advanced in a manner that respects shared roles, responsibilities and jurisdictions – and leverages benefits to Canada and supports strategic partnerships.
  • Key decision-makers have a venue for discussing progress and priorities on nuclear innovation and nuclear energy matters broadly.
POLICY, LEGISLATION AND REGULATION
Nuclear Liability and Compensation Act
STATUS: IN PROGRESS
GC05

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 6

ACTION

The Government of Canada has accepted the Roadmap recommendation on nuclear liability.

The Government of Canada understands the importance of a robust, risk-informed, and proportionate nuclear liability framework. Effective January 1, 2017, the Nuclear Liability and Compensation Act came into force, providing a strong legislative framework to better address the question of liability and compensation in the unlikely event of a nuclear incident.

Canada is also taking action internationally. Canada is one of 11 countries that has ratified the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage (CSC). Canada hosted the first meeting of the parties and signatories of the CSC in Ottawa in June 2019.

In response to the recommendation, the Government of Canada is engaging with key federal partners and stakeholders to understand the risks associated with SMRs.

Following engagement, proposed amendments to the Nuclear Liability and Compensation Regulations would be considered.

EXPECTED RESULTS

  • The timely clarification of regulations to support SMR applications, particularly for the smallest reactors in off-grid markets.
  • Based on their risk assessment, appropriate classes and liability amounts for different SMR categories will be made in the regulations under the Nuclear Liability and Compensation Act.
POLICY, LEGISLATION AND REGULATION
Nuclear energy projects under the Impact Assessment Act
STATUS: COMPLETE
GC06

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 7

ACTION

The Government of Canada has partially accepted the Roadmap recommendation on impact assessments, including the principle of a threshold approach for inclusion on the Project List.

In August 2019, the Impact Assessment Act came into force, putting in place stronger rules for major projects that protect the environment and communities, advance reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, and ensure good projects can go forward, creating good jobs and economic opportunities for middle-class Canadians.

In a mature regulatory environment such as Canada, federal impact assessment provides a comprehensive and rigorous framework through which to review those major projects with the greatest potential for adverse environmental effects on areas that fall within federal jurisdiction and encourages best possible project designs that take into consideration a range of environmental, health, social and economic effects.

The Physical Activities Regulations (Project List) under the Impact Assessment Act, which came into force in August 2019, includes a two-part threshold for SMRs, which is stricter than that recommended in the Roadmap to further ensure that SMR development in Canada takes place in an environmentally responsible way. Projects that exceed the thresholds are “designated projects” and enter into the planning phase under the Act. Non-designated projects will be assessed by the lifecycle regulator, the CNSC, and, if they take place on federal lands, may require an assessment of environmental effects under the Act.

Pursuant to the two-part threshold, the following physical activities are “designated projects”:

The site preparation for, and the construction, operation and decommissioning of, one or more new nuclear fission or fusion reactors if:

  • that activity is located within the licensed boundaries of an existing Class IA nuclear facility and the new reactors have a combined thermal capacity of more than 900 MWth; or
  • that activity is not located within the licensed boundaries of an existing Class IA nuclear facility and the new reactors have a combined thermal capacity of more than 200 MWth.

EXPECTED RESULTS

  • Canada has a robust process for assessing the impacts of designated projects that is balanced and informed by risk, forming part of a long-term sustainable development strategy for Canada and allowing good projects to move forward.
  • SMRs are developed and deployed in an environmentally safe and responsible way.
POLICY, LEGISLATION AND REGULATION
SMR fuel supply working groups
STATUS: IN PROGRESS
GC07

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 8

ACTION

The Government of Canada has accepted the Roadmap recommendation to convene partners to develop options and recommendations for addressing SMR fuel supply security.

The Government understands that a stable and secure supply of SMR fuel will be a key factor in enabling future SMR deployment in Canada.

Building on the work of the SMR Roadmap Working Groups in 2018, in July 2020, NRCan and partners launched an SMR Fuel Supply Working Group, which is co-chaired by NRCan and AECL, with participation from Ontario Power Generation (OPG), Bruce Power, SaskPower and NBPower.

The Working Group will prepare a report for Federal, Provincial, Territorial governments and Industry leaders, that:

  • Maps current SMR fuel supply chain capabilities in Canada and in other countries;
  • Identifies gaps and risks in the supply chains;
  • Enumerates options for addressing gaps and risks; and
  • Makes recommendations for actions to ensure a safe and secure supply of SMR fuel to meet Canada’s strategic objectives for SMR demonstration and deployment in Canada.

EXPECTED RESULTS

  • Establish a strong cross-functional working group to evaluate technical and policy considerations associated with SMR fuel cycles
  • Establish baseline fuel manufacturing and supply capabilities in Canada and internationally
  • Revised problem statements for candidate SMRs
  • Identify and engage key partners in SMR fuel supply
  • Established plan for addressing and overcoming gaps in supply chain to meet SMR deployment timelines (aspirational goal)
POLICY, LEGISLATION AND REGULATION
Nuclear energy as part of Canada’s net-zero future
STATUS: IN PROGRESS
GC08

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 9

ACTION

The Government of Canada agrees with the Roadmap recommendation to include nuclear energy in programs and policies that target the development of non-emitting sources of energy, recognizing nuclear as part of the solution as Canada transitions toward net-zero emissions by 2050. SMRs present opportunities to build on nuclear’s existing role by providing a non-emitting alternative to coal and supporting broader decarbonization throughout the economy.

This is supported by recent reports and evidence from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the International Energy Agency, and Bloomberg New Energy Finance, all of which highlight the important role that nuclear energy must play in meeting global climate targets.

The Government of Canada recognizes the importance of nuclear energy, as evidenced by its inclusion in Canada’s strengthened climate plan, A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy, Canada’s Mission Innovation clean energy R&D commitments, its leadership during the 10th Clean Energy Ministerial, and recent Government of Canada policy speeches and statements (including the Action Plan itself). Nuclear energy is eligible for support through a variety of federal programs and organizations, such as through the Canada Commercial Corporation (CCC), Export Development Canada (EDC), the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED)’s Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF), and Global Affairs Canada (GAC)’s Trade Commissioner Service, and will be considered in future programs as well.

The Government of Canada will continue to explore opportunities to further include nuclear energy in federal initiatives.

EXPECTED RESULTS

  • Nuclear energy continues to be recognized as an essential enabler of Canada’s net-zero future.
  • Increased number of jobs within Canada’s energy innovation economy.
POLICY, LEGISLATION AND REGULATION
Consideration of SMRs in the Pan-Canadian Framework
STATUS: IN PROGRESS
GC09

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 9

ACTION

The Government of Canada agrees with the Roadmap recommendation to include nuclear energy in programs and policies that target the development of clean and non-emitting sources of energy.

Led by ECCC, the Government is including SMRs in policy development for economy-wide decarbonization through the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change. This includes actions such as including nuclear as a non-emitting source of energy in its planning, integrating SMRs into Canada’s climate change modelling, and engaging with nuclear stakeholders in the development of policies and products that impact the sector.

EXPECTED RESULTS

  • A clear signal to industry and innovation groups to take steps towards a future based on non-emitting generation.
  • Implementing a long term policy framework for greenhouse gas emissions will send a clear signal to industry and innovation groups to start planning for a future based on non-emitting generation.
  • The Government of Canada will consistently identify nuclear as a form of non-emitting electricity and heat in official products and communications.
  • The Government of Canada will consistently consider the role that SMRs may play alongside other non-emitting sources to contribute to meeting environmental objectives in all future policy development.
  • The Government of Canada will continue to engage nuclear stakeholders in the development of policies and products that impact the sector.
  • SMRs will be included in economic modelling assessments of potential climate actions.
POLICY, LEGISLATION AND REGULATION
Emergency preparedness
STATUS: IN PROGRESS
GC10

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): N/A

ACTION

The Government of Canada places top priority on health, safety, security and the environment in relation to nuclear activities in Canada. It has established a comprehensive legislation framework for nuclear emergency preparedness which focuses on protecting health, safety, security and the environment.

Health Canada, through the Radiation Protection Bureau, informs and advises Canadians, other federal departments and stakeholders (e.g., Provincial/Territorial governments, health professionals, industry) about the health risks from exposure to ionizing radiation and strategies to manage those risks. Health Canada is staying abreast of technological developments in Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) to ensure that we are prepared to assess the radiological health risks from deploying and operating the units in Canadian communities, under routine and emergency situations.

Health Canada is also responsible for the leadership and coordination of the Federal Nuclear Emergency Plan – Canada’s federal plan to respond to a radiological or nuclear emergency in Canada or abroad. The FNEP identifies and coordinates the roles of 18 federal institutions and their contributions to nuclear emergency response.

Health Canada will continue to assess and review its monitoring strategies as well as Canada’s federal nuclear emergency response plans to ensure they address the unique requirements and risk profiles associated with the development, demonstration and deployment of SMRs in Canada.

EXPECTED RESULTS

  • Canada continues to be well-prepared to respond in the unlikely event of a nuclear emergency.
  • Canada’s nuclear emergency plans address the unique requirements and risk profiles of SMRs.
CAPACITY, ENGAGEMENT, AND PUBLIC CONFIDENCE
Indigenous engagement on SMRs
STATUS: IN PROGRESS
GC11

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 10, 11, 12

ACTION

The Government of Canada has accepted the Roadmap recommendation (#10) on the importance of engagement with Indigenous peoples, reflecting a commitment to walk the pathway of Indigenous reconciliation, partnerships, and benefits sharing. The Government of Canada has also acknowledged recommendations 11 and 12.

In 2020, NRCan launched an Indigenous engagement process with Indigenous Peoples and communities on SMRs to enable meaningful, two-way dialogue. Engagement plans build on the initial engagement sessions that were held under the SMR Roadmap in 2018, expanding and deepening outreach and engagement efforts. Plans have been developed in partnership with Provincial and Territorial governments and power utilities across Canada to ensure alignment and cooperation. Fair and transparent criteria were developed to identify Indigenous communities and groups across Canada and letters of introduction were distributed widely. Letters invite discussions about how Indigenous peoples would like to be engaged on SMRs. NRCan is committed to fairly and equitably responding to requests for a range of engagement activities including, for example, video conferences, workshops, and development of materials such as videos, slide decks, and Indigenous translation. NRCan will enable inclusion of nuclear sector partners in engagement plans on SMRs as appropriate, based on the interests and priorities of Indigenous peoples.

EXPECTED RESULTS

  • The Government of Canada enables transparency and information sharing about SMRs with an ever-broadening number of Indigenous groups and organizations.
  • The Government of Canada fosters meaningful two-way engagement with Indigenous peoples on SMRs, leading to greater understanding of Indigenous issues, views, concerns, and opportunities related to SMRs within the Government of Canada and the nuclear sector.
  • Engagement underpins the development of partnerships with Indigenous peoples and benefits sharing.
CAPACITY, ENGAGEMENT, AND PUBLIC CONFIDENCE
National SMR Forum with Indigenous Communities
STATUS: COMPLETE
GC12

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 10

ACTION

The Government of Canada has accepted the Roadmap recommendation for Indigenous engagement.

The Government of Canada supported the National Small Modular Reactor (SMR) Forum with Indigenous communities, organized by the First Nations Power Authority (FNPA), which brought together industry, governments, and Indigenous communities interested in the development of SMRs.

The Forum provided an opportunity for meaningful engagement and dialogue between Indigenous communities, industry and governments in the spirit of reconciliation.

EXPECTED RESULTS

  • The Forum provided an opportunity for meaningful engagement and dialogue between Indigenous communities, industry and governments in the spirit of reconciliation.
CAPACITY, ENGAGEMENT, AND PUBLIC CONFIDENCE
Engagement with the public and civil society
STATUS: IN PROGRESS
GC13

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 12

ACTION

The Government of Canada has accepted the spirit of the Roadmap recommendation on better understanding the views of the public on nuclear energy.

An engaged, informed citizenry is the cornerstone of our democracy, and transparency, accountability and evidence-based discussions improve outcomes for Canadians and Canada.

We recognize that trust and public confidence, created through transparent and open engagement is necessary to achieving public support for SMRs in Canada. The Government of Canada and its partners have important roles to play to convene these exchanges and enable public discussions among Canadians.

The Government of Canada is committed to transparency and engaging Canadians beyond just the nuclear sector. Recent activities to broaden our reach include:

  • Partnering with the United Nations Association in Canada (UNAC) to engage youth in a discussion about how SMRs can support the UN Sustainable Development Goals and to learn from the perspectives of young Canadians.
  • Collaborating with Mad Science, an organization that runs science clubs and camps for kids of all ages reaching millions of children around the world, to develop nuclear science education materials for their clubs and camps.

The Government of Canada is also working with civil society organizations internationally under the Flexible Nuclear Campaign of the NICE Future initiative under the Clean Energy Ministerial framework to build capacity and an evidence base for flexible nuclear operations.

EXPECTED RESULTS

  • Nuclear energy is better understood by the public at large.
  • Public confidence and trust in nuclear energy is built and maintained.
POLICY, LEGISLATION AND REGULATION
National SMR R&D work
STATUS: IN PROGRESS
GC14

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 13

ACTION

The Government of Canada has acknowledged Roadmap recommendation for a national SMR R&D program.

The Government has made significant investments to build SMR R&D capacity in Canada. This includes investments to revitalize AECL’s facilities, which aim to host an SMR demonstration project by 2026. Additionally, $76 million per year until 2025 is being invested in the Federal Nuclear Science and Technology program, to maintain necessary nuclear knowledge, capabilities and expertise at CNL, including on SMRs.

AECL is working with CNL to support its Canadian Nuclear Research initiative (CNRI) – a program to accelerate the deployment of SMRs in Canada by enabling research and development.

EXPECTED RESULTS

  • Federal Nuclear Science and Technology program participants are able to optimize resources, share technical knowledge, and gain access to CNL’s expertise to help advance the commercialization of SMR technologies.
INTERNATIONAL PARTNERSHIPS AND MARKETS
Global SMR market validation
STATUS: COMPLETE
GC15

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 14

ACTION

The Government of Canada has accepted the Roadmap recommendation on validating the global market for SMRs.

NRCan contracted McKinsey & Company to validate the estimates of the global SMR market. McKinsey & Company’s report validated these estimates and project that the actual market is likely to exceed the estimates of the Economics and Finance Working Group.

EXPECTED RESULTS

  • The Government of Canada and its partners have information on the size and potential applications for SMRs globally, and the value that Canada could capture in global supply chains.
INTERNATIONAL PARTNERSHIPS AND MARKETS
International engagement on SMRs
STATUS: IN PROGRESS
GC16

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 15

ACTION

The Government of Canada has accepted the Roadmap recommendation on engaging with key partners and strategic multilateral initiatives to develop international enabling frameworks for SMRs: regulation, transportation, liability, and waste management.

The Government understands that there is a global market for SMRs, and that there may be opportunities for Canadian exporters to deploy fleets of SMRs abroad.

This will require appropriate enabling frameworks that adequately address security, non-proliferation, safety and waste management concerns, while being flexible, open to innovation, and risk-informed.

The Government of Canada, through NRCan, GAC, CNSC and AECL, is working with international partners to develop models for international enabling frameworks for global deployment of SMRs. Canada is an active participant in multilateral fora where global SMR demonstration and deployment are discussed, including the IAEA, OECD-NEA, GIF and IFNEC. Canada is also working bilaterally and plurilaterally to advance the development of models for international enabling frameworks for SMRs.

For example, earlier this year NRCan convened a global webinar to discuss opportunities for international collaboration and share best practices on how to work across borders to develop enabling policy frameworks for SMR deployment.

The CNSC is also engaged in bilateral and multilateral collaborative efforts to ensure readiness for the regulation of innovative nuclear technologies. These collaborative efforts seek to find efficiencies in regulatory reviews and information sharing, and to avoid duplication by leveraging other regulators’ technical assessments. For example:

  • In 2019, the CNSC signed a memorandum of cooperation with the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission that could support more efficient reviews of SMRs;
  • The CNSC is by developing a similar memorandum of cooperation with the Office for Nuclear Regulation in the United Kingdom, aiming to enhance existing collaboration through technical exchanges and sharing of training programs and development activities; and
  • The CNSC is also committed to working with others to advance Canada’s priorities on international enabling frameworks, including bilaterally and multilaterally.

The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) is also exploring the opportunities for international collaboration in the use of nuclear technology for space-based applications.

EXPECTED RESULTS

  • Viable pathways are developed to enable international deployment of SMRs—in both newcomer and existing nuclear countries.
  • Canada is strategically positioned to enable access to export markets for technologies with supply chains anchored domestically.
INTERNATIONAL PARTNERSHIPS AND MARKETS
Taking Canadian SMR technology abroad
STATUS: IN PROGRESS
GC17

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 15

ACTION

The Government of Canada has accepted the Roadmap recommendation on engaging with key partners and strategic multilateral initiatives to develop international enabling frameworks for SMRs: regulation, transportation, liability, and waste management.

The Government is committed to continuing to advocate for Canada's nuclear industry across the globe.

GAC’s Trade Commissioner Service network will support innovation and exporting goals of Canadian SMR companies, promoting global exports of Canadian SMR technologies and positioning Canada as a leader in nuclear and emissions-free energy generation.

EXPECTED RESULTS

  • Canadian SMR companies are connected to export and funding programs to support international business development.
  • Canadian SMR companies export their capabilities in foreign markets, with the support of the Trade Commissioner Service and other federal partners.
  • Canadian leadership in global climate change efforts and the energy transition.
INTERNATIONAL PARTNERSHIPS AND MARKETS
Nuclear energy in international climate change dialogues
STATUS: IN PROGRESS
GC18

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 9

ACTION

The Government of Canada is committed to positioning nuclear energy in international energy and climate change dialogues, including CEM and COP.

Nuclear energy should be included alongside other options in discussions about energy transition in order to maintain the integrity and the evidence base of the policy dialogue.

Where appropriate, the Government of Canada will proactively raise nuclear energy as a solution in international climate change dialogues.

Canada worked with partners in the US and Japan, among others, to develop the first-ever nuclear energy initiative under the Clean Energy Ministerial framework. Together, we launched the “NICE Future” initiative, and Canada led on the development of a nuclear energy program for CEM-10, which Canada hosted in Vancouver in May 2019. Our aim was to mainstream consideration of nuclear energy in broader policy discussions under CEM, and for the first time, nuclear energy was a fully integrated part of the event. Key outcomes for the initiative included:

  • Two official CEM side events focused on nuclear energy, plus inclusion of nuclear in several other side events. 
  • The Canadian premiere of “The New Fire” a documentary film on nuclear energy, by Canadian award-winning film-maker David Schumacher.
  • The release of a high-profile report by International Energy Agency (IEA) Director Fatih Birol on “Nuclear Energy in Clean Energy Systems”, the first report by IEA on nuclear energy in 20 years.
  • The release of Breakthroughs, a book for ministers and policy makers on near-term nuclear innovation, with stories to spark imagination and challenge preconceptions about nuclear energy’s role in the net-zero future.
  • Global participation that included representatives from 13 countries and the European Union; 125 nuclear energy private sector representatives, including 14 SMR developers and 4 operators; 15 civil society organizations involved in nuclear; 4 national nuclear laboratories from 3 countries; and, 4 international organizations involved in nuclear.
  • Since CEM10, Canada has continued to pursue opportunities to build awareness of nuclear in broader climate change discussions, including bringing nuclear energy to GLOBE 2020, the largest sustainable business and innovation summit.

EXPECTED RESULTS

  • Nuclear energy is included as a solution in international climate change dialogues that Canada is part of.
INTERNATIONAL PARTNERSHIPS AND MARKETS
International enabling frameworks for SMRs
STATUS: IN PROGRESS
GC19

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 15

ACTION

The Government of Canada has accepted the Roadmap recommendation on engaging with key partners and strategic multilateral initiatives to develop international enabling frameworks for SMRs: regulation, transportation, liability, and waste management.

The Government recognizes that the adoption of new nuclear energy technology must continue to meet the highest standards of safety, security and non-proliferation, in accordance with Canada’s legislative and regulatory requirements.

The Government will continue to engage with international partners through the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to assess the international export control framework readiness for SMRs.

The Government will also continue to engage with SMR vendors to understand various technologies and potential international markets, to ensure adequate nuclear non-proliferation frameworks are in place.

EXPECTED RESULTS

  • SMR-specific challenges in the international export control framework are identified and initiatives are proposed to address them.
  • Prospective Canadian SMR vendors have an understanding of the existing international nuclear export control framework and understand the importance of nuclear non-proliferation.
  • Negotiation of bilateral Nuclear Cooperation Agreements, as appropriate.
POLICY, LEGISLATION AND REGULATION
Coordination with the Hydrogen Strategy for Canada
STATUS: IN PROGRESS
GC20

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): N/A

ACTION

The Government of Canada has announced plans to develop a comprehensive hydrogen strategy. We will coordinate efforts between Canada’s SMR Action Plan and the Hydrogen Strategy for Canada as it is developed, and will seek opportunities for the two initiatives to be mutually-reinforcing.

Meeting our climate change objectives will require many different non-emitting energy sources and technologies, including both SMRs and hydrogen, as part of our low carbon future. In particular, SMRs can produce electricity and high temperature steam, which could enhance the overall efficiency of hydrogen production by electrolysis (water splitting). Hybrid thermochemical-electrolysis methods are actively being researched in Canada and are expected to further improve efficiencies.

During off-peak times, when supply exceeds demand, electricity produced from nuclear reactors can be diverted to produce inexpensive hydrogen.

EXPECTED RESULTS

  • Canada leverages its Tier 1 nuclear energy expertise to become a leader in the hydrogen economy by improving non-emitting production technologies for hydrogen.
DEMONSTRATION AND DEPLOYMENT
Support from regional development agencies
STATUS: IN PROGRESS
GC21

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 1

ACTION

Canada's regional development agencies work to create opportunities for economic growth, innovation and economic diversification to build stronger and more innovative businesses and communities in regions across Canada.

Regional development agencies support business-scale-up and productivity, as well as regional innovation systems that include businesses, universities and not-for-profit organizations. As part of this, regional development agencies invest in technologies in a broad range of sectors to advance Canada’s economic development and climate change objectives.

By supporting technology advancement and commercialization, programming delivered by regional development agencies could help advance SMR development and deployment in Canada.

For example, funding from regional development agencies could support the development, commercialization, scale-up and demonstration of SMR-enabling technologies.

EXPECTED RESULTS

  • Regional businesses and academic institutions are involved in SMR demonstration and deployment projects. Regional firms contribute to SMR supply chains; increased levels of expertise in this high-tech field.
CAPACITY, ENGAGEMENT AND PUBLIC CONFIDENCE
Regional convening and intelligence gathering
STATUS: IN PROGRESS
GC22

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 1, 10, 12

ACTION

Regional development agencies could act as convenors and/or play a role in regional intelligence gathering by:

  • providing support for conferences and events create opportunities for engagement stakeholders related to SMR development, including but not limited to Indigenous businesses and communities; and/or
  • working with stakeholders to identify opportunities and barriers to developing and commercializing SMR technology at the local level.

EXPECTED RESULTS

  • Regional stakeholders’ and Indigenous views, interests, and concerns are voiced; investment decisions are targeted and informed through direct engagement with regional players.
DEMONSTRATION AND DEPLOYMENT
Opportunities in Atlantic Canada
STATUS: IN PROGRESS
GC23

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 1

ACTION

Canada's regional development agencies work to create opportunities for economic growth, innovation and economic diversification to build stronger and more innovative businesses and communities in regions across Canada.

Regional development agencies support business-scale-up and productivity, as well as regional innovation systems that include businesses, universities and not-for-profit organizations. As part of this, regional development agencies invest in technologies in a broad range of sectors to advance Canada’s economic development and climate change objectives.

By supporting technology advancement and commercialization, programming delivered by regional development agencies could help advance SMR development and deployment in Canada.

The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) will work with specific vendors and provinces to identify opportunities for broad-based results in the Atlantic region.

EXPECTED RESULTS

  • Better identification of supply chain opportunities
  • increased R&D capacity
  • Better coordination among relevant parties/levels of government
DEMONSTRATION AND DEPLOYMENT
Support for New Brunswick’s Advanced SMR Nuclear Energy Research Cluster
STATUS: IN PROGRESS
GC24

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 1

ACTION

The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) will provide direct support, including nuclear industry certifications and registrations, to Atlantic firms identifying business growth opportunities as part of New Brunswick’s Advanced SMR Nuclear Energy Research Cluster.

EXPECTED RESULTS

  • A growing and robust SMR supply chain in Atlantic Canada.
DEMONSTRATION AND DEPLOYMENT
SMR R&D in Atlantic Canada
STATUS: IN PROGRESS
GC25

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 13

ACTION

The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) will work with research institutions in Atlantic Canada to identify and take advantage of SMR R&D opportunities in that region, as an essential part of Canada’s national nuclear science and technology ecosystem.

EXPECTED RESULTS

  • Strengthened Atlantic capacity within Canada’s nuclear research community.
CAPACITY, ENGAGEMENT AND PUBLIC CONFIDENCE
Indigenous engagement in Atlantic Canada
STATUS: IN PROGRESS
GC26

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 12

ACTION

The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) will encourage and support SMR proponents to engage with Indigenous communities to understand views on nuclear, as well as identifying opportunities for the indigenous community share in the economic benefits.

EXPECTED RESULTS

  • Ongoing and more inclusive input to decision-making on nuclear energy use in New Brunswick.
POLICY, LEGISLATION AND REGULATION
SMRs in the Atlantic Clean Power Roadmap
STATUS: IN PROGRESS
GC27

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 9

ACTION

Through the ongoing Atlantic Clean Power Roadmap exercise, the Government of Canada will continue to position potential regional SMR development as an important element of Atlantic energy capacity building.

EXPECTED RESULTS

  • SMRs are positioned within the range of energy options available to reduce GHG intensity in Atlantic electricity generation.