Canada’s Ontario Power Group (OPG) formally broke ground in Darlington to kick-start the preparations for the construction of the country’s first small modular nuclear reactor (SMR).
The ceremony was attended by OPG executives, as well as representatives from its technical partner, GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) and Ontario’s local government.
According to OPG president and CEO Ken Hartwick, the project banks upon the power company’s considerable experience in the provision of safe, affordable, and reliable power, along with the region’s stable nuclear supply chain in order to develop new-generation solutions to the ongoing energy crisis. Once completed, the Darlington SMR will enable the company to keep up with Ontario’s evolving energy requirements.
The site preparation process will involve several non-nuclear construction initiatives, including site clearing and grading for key infrastructure projects. Preparing the site for constructing roads, support buildings, and utilities are expected to run well into 2025.
Niagara-based company ES Fox currently holds the contract to perform several key preparatory tasks, including the installation of utilities like water and electrical systems, groundwork for an internal information technology system, as well as road services. The ES Fox contract is worth around US$ 24 million and is expected to generate at least 100 new job opportunities within the vicinity.
Back in October, OPG submitted an application for a license to build the SMR in Darlington to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) which formally gave its approval. The company expects to finalize its construction decisions by the end of 2024 and hopes to commence operations by 2028.
A Significant Investment
The OPG Darlington SMR initiative also stands as the Canada Infrastructure Bank’s largest investment into the clean power sector thanks to its commitment of around CA$970 million to ensure its financial certainty and serve as a sign of federal support for the initiative.
For his part, Ontario Premier Doug Ford thoroughly supports the OPG SMR project. In his opinion, SMRs like the one set for construction will help augment the local economy through significant investments, as well as ensure that it will have a reliable source of non-fossil fuel-dependent energy.
The Darlington SMR
Together with GEH, OPG is set to deploy a BWRX-300 reactor at its Darlington site.
This particular SMR is a 300-megawatt water-cooled natural circulation reactor with built-in safety systems that are an improvement on the original design and licensing basis of the GEH ESBWR boiling water reactor.
Currently, the technology is undergoing a vendor design review with the CNSC.