Canada will offer C$970 million ($708 million) in financing to build a grid-scale small modular reactor (SMR), a new nuclear technology endorsed as a vital part of the country’s plans to lower emissions, Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said on Tuesday.
The project, which is being build by utility Ontario Power Generation (OPG) in Darlington, Ontario, will be the first commercial grid-scale SMR in the Group of Seven wealthy nations (G7), according to the minister’s spokesperson.
This funding, provided as low-interest debt from the Canada Infrastructure Bank‘s (CIB) pool set aside for clean power investments, would be used for preparation work required before nuclear construction, including project design and site preparation.
The energy crisis prompted by the conflict in Ukraine has revived interest in nuclear power, and next-generation SMRs are seen as efficient, quicker to develop, and a way to potentially speed up the shift away from fossil fuels.
Wilkinson said at the Darlington Energy Complex in Clarington, Ontario:
“We are doing this because nuclear energy – as a non-emitting source of energy – is critical to the achievement of Canada’s and the world’s climate goals.”
Canada, like the rest of the G7, is aiming at net-zero emissions by 2050. The government has an intermediate goal to reduce emissions by 40% to 45% below 2005 levels by 2030.
“Nuclear power is one source that can help in reaching our climate targets while addressing growing future demand.”
OPG predicts that the SMR project to be finished by the end of the decade, and said in July that preparation work, such as building roads at the site, would begin in 2022.
The reactors are designed by GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, a partnership between Japan’s Hitachi Ltd and General Electric Co (GE.N), and could power close to 300,000 homes after completion, OPG says.
Almost 15% of Canada’s electricity is generated from nuclear power, according to the World Nuclear Association.
($1 = 1.3697 Canadian dollars)