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Canada Focused on Development of Small Modular Reactors

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EIRNS—In a world subject to the irrational demands by the London-centered financial architects of COP26 that countries give up the use of coal, natural gas, and oil, the fuel source for two-thirds of the world’s terribly inadequate electricity generation, the World Nuclear Association (WNA) reports that about 30 countries are considering planning or starting nuclear power programs.

The IAEA Power Reactor Information System reports that there are presently 441 nuclear power reactors operating in 32 countries, which provide about 10 percent of the world’s electricity. Another 51 reactors are under construction, 5 of which are being built in countries which are joining the nuclear club: Turkey (3 units) and Bangladesh (2 units). In addition, WNA notes that 8 more countries either have plans or proposals to build nuclear reactors for the first time: Egypt (4 planned), Jordan (1 proposed), Kazakhstan (2 proposed), Lithuania (2 proposed), Poland (6 proposed), Saudi Arabia (16 proposed), Thailand (2 proposed), and Uzbekistan (2 planned and 2 more proposed).

While most of the nuclear reactors in existence, under construction or in the planning phase, are the conventional, large nuclear power reactors with electrical generation capacities ranging from 500 megawatts (MWe) up to 1,700 MWe, there is an increasing role for small modular reactors (SMRs) which produce 300 MWe of electricity, or less.

Several countries are actively developing a variety of different types of SMR currently at an advanced state of planning, including the United States, Russia, China, and Canada.

A recent World Nuclear Association news item briefly described an advanced design in New Brunswick. The ARC-100, a 100-MWe sodium-cooled reactor developed by U.S.-based Advanced Research Concepts, LLP is scheduled to become operational by 2029.

Also mentioned is another design for New Brunswick, Moltex’s Stable Salt Reactor—Wasteburner; a 150-MWe molten salt reactor developed by UK- and Canada-based Moltex Energy Ltd. That SMR is on track to be in operation by the early 2030s. Both SMR designs, which build upon technologies developed in the 1960s at U.S. government National Laboratories (Argonne NL and Oak Ridge NL), use a fast neutron spectrum capable of much more efficient use of the nuclear fuel, and even recycling spent fuel to generate more power.

In Canada, the provinces of Ontario, New Brunswick, and Saskatchewan signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on December 1, 2019, that establishes a framework for the development and deployment of SMRs in each respective jurisdiction. On April 14, 2021, the three Premiers held a virtual national press conference with the Premier of Alberta to formally welcome that province as a signatory to the MoU and announce the release of a report on the Feasibility of SMR Development and Deployment in Canada. The report, which has been welcomed by the Canadian government, concluded that the development of SMRs would support domestic energy needs, curb greenhouse gas emissions, and position Canada as a global leader in this emerging technology.

Robert Hux
eir@eircanada.ca