Federal government contributing $970M to fund small modular nuclear reactor in Ontario
The Canada Infrastructure Bank has made a deal with Ontario Power Generation to provide $970 million to build the country’s first small modular reactor.
Over ten years, the deal will fund construction of a 300-megawatt small modular reactor next to the existing 3,500-megawatt Darlington Nuclear Generating Station in Clarington, Ont.
“Today’s announcement represents a significant step towards the development of a non-emitting electricity grid and a prosperous net-zero future,” said Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson in a media statement.
“The deployment of one of Canada’s first small modular reactors [SMRs] at Darlington Station will further enhance Canada’s leadership in nuclear technology, create sustainable jobs and reduce emissions.”
SMRs have smaller footprints and shorter construction schedules than traditional nuclear generating stations.
The Canada Infrastructure Bank, CIB, a federal Crown corporation, said in a media statement that small reactors are crucial to achieving Canada’s goal, laid out in the Paris agreement, of cutting national greenhouse gas emissions 40 to 45 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.
Ontario Power Generation, a provincial Crown corporation responsible for about half of Ontario’s energy production, said the reactor is key to its goal of reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040.
The Darlington SMR, the CIB said, will also be used to help spearhead similar projects in Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Alberta.
The future of low emissions
The transition from gas-powered vehicles to ones that rely on electricity will result in a sizeable increase in electricity demand — and the government wants the future grid to be zero-emitting by 2035.
OPG and the federal government say that once the Darlington SMR is up and running, it will be able to provide enough power to run 160,000 cars.
Earlier this year, the federal government said it would work with the provinces and territories to establish a “a Pan-Canadian Grid Council” to promote clean electricity infrastructure investments and develop emerging technologies like geothermal, tidal and SMRs.
“As our largest clean power investment, we are supporting technology which can accelerate the reduction in greenhouse gases while also paving the way for Canada becoming a global SMR technology hub,” said Ehren Cory, CEO of the Canada Infrastructure Bank.