Plans for a state-of-the-art “clean energy” reactor have been announced for the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station in Bowmanville, Ont., the first such project in the country in about three decades.
Ontario Power Generation announced its intention to build a small modular reactor (SMR) on the site on Thursday, working together with its development partner, GE Hitachi Nuclear Canada.
“It’s really a first for the developed world,” said Ken Hartwick, president and chief executive of OPG, speaking of the plans to install the reactor.
The SMR reactor, known as BWRX-300, would join the exiting four CANDU reactors at Darlington, the newest of which dates back to 1993.
It’s set to be built on the east side of the current generating station. It’s the only site in Canada licensed for a new nuclear build.
A 300-megawatt (mW) SMR reactor, such as the one planned for Darlington, is expected to prevent between 0.3 and two megatonnes of emissions per year, according to OPG, depending on its location and the power source that it replaces.
“It’s non-carbon-emitting. [It’s] got a very low footprint,” Hartwick said.
“If you compared it to solar, you’d need about the equivalent of probably 100 times as much property to build the same thing.”
Ontario Energy Minister Todd Smith, who attended the announcement, said he believes nuclear technology such as SMR is essential for the province to reach net-zero carbon emissions.
“We can be the global leader when it comes to this emission-reducing technology that’s going to help others do what Ontario has done and get off coal and reduce emissions in their energy sector,” he said.
Direct, indirect, and spin-off jobs related to the project are expected to total about 700 during development, according to a 2020 study by the Conference Board of Canada. The same study predicted about 1,600 jobs during manufacturing and construction and 200 jobs during operations. The impact on gross domestic product is estimated to be more than $2.5 billion, with provincial revenues growing by more than $870 million.
Region of Durham chair John Henry told Global News the benefits to the local economy and beyond are substantial.
“We have that talent pool here in the region that will help build this project and help it get around the world and then the money that will come into the economy of this province and this country will be a game-changer,” Henry said.
Site preparation is set to begin in the spring, pending the necessary approvals. OPG said it expects to seek a licence to construct from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission by the end of 2022.
The reactor is expected to be completed as soon as early 2028.
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