The Canadian government continues to fund sustainable and low-carbon emitting projects to be able to transition to clean energy and provide affordable and reliable electricity in the upcoming years.
During the Canadian Nuclear Association’s annual conference on Thursday, Julie Dabrusin, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources and to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, announced the launch of the Enabling Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) Program.
The $29.6 million program will be funded by Natural Resources Canada and will develop supply chains for SMR manufacturing as well as fuel supply and security to make sure the country’s SMR industry thrives. It will also fund research on safe waste management solutions.
Applications are open and applicants for the fund could include private firms, provinces and territories, universities, Indigenous groups and utilities.
Today, at the @CanadaNuclear Association’s annual conference, PS Dabrusin launched the Enabling Small Modular Reactors (SMR) Program. SMRs are one of the technologies needed to unlock clean power as Canada moves towards a net-zero grid.
— Natural Resources (@NRCan) February 23, 2023
Small modular reactors are safe, consistent and cost-efficient
According to Natural Resources Canada, nuclear energy is non-emitting, consistent and safe and will play an important role as the country sees an increase in energy demands.
Small modular reactors (SMRs) are a type of nuclear reactor that is designed to be smaller and more flexible than traditional large-scale nuclear power plants.
There are several benefits and disadvantages associated with the use of SMRs such as being less expensive to build and operate. Also, they are flexible and safe compared to larger reactors, use less water and generate less waste.
A 300-megawatt small modular reactor could supply enough clean power for around 300,000 homes. SMRs could support the decarbonization of provincial electricity grids and heavy-emitting industries. It could also help remote communities transition away from diesel power.
Finally, the reactors can be deployed in a modular fashion, which allows for more flexible and scalable power generation options.
Some of the disadvantages include generating less power which may limit their usefulness in some applications, they are more vulnerable to theft or sabotage that could pose a security risk.
“The safe and reliable clean energy provided by nuclear power is supporting us in removing coal and gas from the grid in Ontario and across Canada,” said Dabrusin.
“By investing in this next generation of nuclear technology, Canada can support its partners around the world in achieving their climate goals while exporting clean technologies and critical minerals like uranium to our global partners,” she added.
“This program will help fight pollution and create sustainable jobs for generations to come.”
Canada wants to be a worldwide leader in nuclear energy
In January, Ontario Power Generation announced it selected GE Hitachi’s BWXR-300 small modular reactor to be the first grid-scale SMR in Canada.
The electricity provider signed an agreement with a team of nuclear experts to lead the reactor’s construction for the next six years including Candu Energy Inc., a member of the SNC-Lavalin Group (TSX: SNC), GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy and Aecon. The Darlington Small Modular Reactor, set to become one of the world’s initial commercial SMRs, received a funding boost of $970 million from the Canada Infrastructure Bank.
“As Canada advances toward a net-zero grid by 2035, growing our clean energy industries is a vital undertaking, Minister of Natural Resources Jonathan Wilkinson said in a statement.
“Today’s launch of the Enabling Small Modular Reactors Program is a step toward delivering more reliable, affordable and clean power to communities in regions across Canada,” Wilkinson added.
The 2022 Budget allocated $29.6 million to Natural Resources Canada over four years for R&D necessary to support the displacement of fossil fuels and contribute to climate change mitigation.
Earlier this month, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), in collaboration with NRCan, announced a call for proposals for SMR projects under the Alliance Grants program. The initiative aims to support universities in tackling SMR waste issues and establishing SMR supply chains through financial assistance to eligible applicants.