Ontario is uniquely positioned to support SMR development and deployment in Ontario, Canada and globally. Ontario has been a leader in nuclear technology and innovation for over 50 years when the first CANDU power reactor went into service. Since then, the nuclear industry has been successful in exporting Canadian technology around the world.
Today, Ontario is at the heart of Canada’s world-class nuclear industry which includes more than 200 companies, contributes about $17 billion to Canada’s GDP and supports around 76,000 jobs. Ontario’s nuclear companies are involved in all aspects of nuclear energy including nuclear fuel production; engineering and design; nuclear plant equipment and services; nuclear power plant operations and maintenance; and decommissioning and waste management. The experience and drive to innovate in Ontario’s world-class nuclear supply chain can be leveraged to support advanced nuclear technologies such as SMRs.
Ontario has been exploring the feasibility of SMRs for several years as a source of safe, clean and affordable energy. In 2016, Ontario released a feasibility study on SMRs for deployment at remote mines in Ontario (i.e., to replace diesel power). Ontario has continued to publicly highlight the potential benefits of SMRs and was a key contributor to the development of the Canadian Roadmap for SMRs.
Several factors are driving Ontario’s interest in SMR development and deployment, including:
Clean Energy: SMRs are a non-emitting source of reliable energy that have the potential to replace diesel power in off-grid remote communities or mining operations. SMRs can also complement intermittent renewable energy sources by providing reliable baseload capacity for meeting growth in on-grid electricity demand in the future, including from increasing electrification of the economy.
Ontario is also home to the only shovel-ready licensed site for a nuclear new-build project (i.e., the Darlington nuclear site) which provides Ontario with a ‘first-mover’ capability for on-grid SMRs. In addition, Canada’s first off-grid SMR demonstration project has been proposed for development in Chalk River, Ontario, and is undergoing an environmental assessment.
Economic Development: Economic benefits of SMR development and deployment include the creation of new highly-skilled jobs, including opportunities for Indigenous communities, and the longer-term potential to export home-grown technology and services around the world.
Innovation: Nuclear is a part of Canada’s national science and innovation sector, involving over 30 universities and six major research centres, mostly in Ontario. The development and deployment of SMRs as the next generation of nuclear technology could support and enhance the cutting-edge research already underway in research centres and educational institutions in Ontario.
In December 2019, Ontario signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with New Brunswick and Saskatchewan to collaborate on advancing SMR development and deployment. Since then, Ontario has been working closely with provincial governments and utilities (i.e., Ontario Power Generation, Bruce Power, SaskPower and NB Power) to deliver on the MOU commitments, including the development of a Feasibility Study and a Strategic Plan for the deployment of SMRs in our respective jurisdictions.
Three deployment “streams” of SMR projects are currently proposed by the power companies. Taking this approach will help create flexibility and growth opportunities for communities connected to the grid (Stream 1), support advancement in nuclear technology and innovation methods to reduce nuclear waste by-products while generating grid-size clean energy (Stream 2) and bring affordable clean energy to remote communities and industry (Stream 3).
Stream 1: Proposes a first grid-scale SMR project of about 300 MW constructed at the Darlington nuclear site in Ontario by 2028, followed by a fleet of units in Saskatchewan with the first unit in service by 2032.
Stream 2: Proposes two advanced reactor designs in New Brunswick for deployment at the Point Lepreau site. The target would be to complete demonstration units by 2035.
Stream 3: Proposes a new class of micro SMRs designed primarily to replace the use of diesel for remote communities and mines. A demonstration project of 5 MW is underway at the Chalk River laboratories site in Ontario, with plans to be in service by 2026.
As Ontario continues its economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, the development of SMRs could help drive the creation of new jobs, growth and export opportunities for Ontario and across the country. In addition, Stream 3 SMR development could connect more remote and rural areas of the province with clean energy, and benefit energy-intensive industries including the mining and manufacturing sectors.
Ontario recognizes that a critical successful factor for deployment of SMRs in Canada is a strong domestic supply chain – this is where Ontario has a competitive advantage. The majority of nuclear suppliers in Ontario are small to medium-sized enterprises. The flexibility and experience of these smaller suppliers will be valuable to SMR deployment and will complement the capabilities of Ontario’s larger manufacturing and engineering companies.
The provincial government has a role to play in setting the necessary policy and regulatory frameworks to enable SMRs as a clean energy option in electricity system planning. Regulated utilities and SMR projects with power purchase agreements are better able to access affordable capital and minimize overall project costs. The Ontario government is working to develop policy tools that could assist the economics of “First-of-a-Kind” SMR deployment within the province.
Ontario is proud to lead the way on SMR development in Canada, positioning Canada as a leader in SMRs worldwide. Together with our partners, we are working to ensure that Canada remains at the forefront of innovation while creating new opportunities for jobs, economic growth and innovation.
DEMONSTRATION AND DEPLOYMENT
Support Stream 1 and 3 SMR Project Development
STATUS: IN PROGRESS
Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 16
Work with provincial utilities to bring forward specific project proposals for Stream 1 and Stream 3 SMR Projects and considering their feasibility for deployment within Ontario under the framework of the Inter-provincial SMR MOU.
Provincial decision-making on SMR project proposals will proceed where the following benefits can be demonstrated:
- Expected benefits for electricity systems and ratepayers;
- Emissions reductions;
- New job creation within Ontario;
- Enhanced economic activity (e.g., positive impact on GDP);
- Potential for innovation and enhancing research capabilities;
- Support for Ontario’s nuclear supply chain; and
- Potential for global export.
POLICY, LEGISLATION, AND REGULATION
Provincial SMR Feasibility Study and Strategic Plan
STATUS: IN PROGRESS
Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 16, 17, 18, 19, 20
Implement an interprovincial framework (i.e., Memorandum of Understanding) for collaboration on SMR development and deployment.
- Development of SMR Strategic Plan by Winter 2020-2021 to be delivered to provincial Premiers.
- Execution of key commitments outlined in MOU:
- To work co-operatively to advance the development and deployment of SMRs to address the needs of New Brunswick, Ontario and Saskatchewan with regards to addressing climate change, regional energy demand, economic development, and research and innovation opportunities;
- To work co-operatively to address key issues for SMR deployment including technological readiness, regulatory frameworks, economics and financing, nuclear waste management, and public and Indigenous engagement;
- To work co-operatively to positively influence the federal government to provide a clear unambiguous statement that nuclear energy is a clean technology and is required as part of the climate change solution;
- To work co-operatively to positively influence the federal government to provide support for SMRs identified in the Canadian SMR Roadmap and as requested by the CEOs of Ontario Power Generation (OPG), Bruce Power, New Brunswick Power Corporation (NB Power) and SaskPower;
- To work co-operatively to positively influence the federal government to make changes as necessary to facilitate the introduction of SMRs;
- To work co-operatively to inform the public about the economic and environmental benefits of nuclear energy and SMRs; and
- To work co-operatively to engage with other interested provinces and territories to explore the potential for SMR deployment in their jurisdictions.
POLICY, LEGISLATION AND REGULATION
Enabling Policy and Regulation Frameworks
STATUS: IN PROGRESS
Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 17, 18
Development of provincial policy tools that could assist in the economics of First-of-a-Kind (FOAK) SMR deployment in Ontario.
Policy tools that could support cost recovery for an SMR project in Ontario include:
- Power Purchase Agreement (PPA);
- Electricity rate regulation (i.e., rate-regulated asset); and
- Work collaboratively with the federal government and power utilities on additional tools to support FOAK SMR deployment.
CAPACITY, ENGAGEMENT AND PUBLIC CONFIDENCE
Development of Strong Domestic Supply Chain and Innovation Driving Growth
STATUS: IN PROGRESS
Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 20
Development of an interprovincial strategy to ensure readiness of the nuclear supply chain to support the three “streams” of SMR deployment.
- Availability of skilled labour and supply chain to support SMR development and deployment.
- Enhanced innovation capabilities including leveraging laboratories, research centres and educational institutions.
- Development of innovative advanced manufacturing techniques to reduce SMR costs.
- Bruce Power and Cameco’s new Centre for Next Generation Nuclear in Ontario will study SMRs and medical isotopes.
- OPG’s new Centre for Canadian Nuclear Sustainability is a hub for innovative nuclear solutions, including SMRs.