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OPG advances clean energy generation project

Today, Ontario Power Generation (OPG) is announcing it will work together with GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy to deploy a Small Modular Reactor (SMR) at the Darlington new nuclear site, the only site in Canada currently licensed for a new nuclear build. Leveraging a strong Ontario-based supply chain, this clean energy project will create jobs across the province and cement Durham Region’s position as the clean energy capital of Ontario.

OPG and GE Hitachi will collaborate on the SMR engineering, design, planning, preparing the licencing and permitting materials, and performing site preparation activities, with the mutual goal of constructing Canada’s first commercial, grid-scale SMR, projected to be completed as early as 2028.

Learn more about the GE Hitachi BWRX-300.

Watch the announcement

Environmental impact

The Darlington SMR will provide a critical new source of clean nuclear energy for Ontario’s future projected energy capacity needs – a demand widely expected to ramp up as transportation and other sectors electrify, using Ontario’s clean power to help decarbonize the broader economy. International bodies, including the International Energy Agency (IEA), have been clear: climate change initiatives will fall short without nuclear power as part of the electricity supply mix.

A single SMR of about 300 megawatts in size can prevent between 0.3 megatonnes (MT) to 2 MT of carbon dioxide emissions per year, depending on where it is located and what kind of power it is displacing.

Economic impact and jobs

A 2020 study undertaken by the Conference Board of Canada shows strong economic benefit to Ontario from construction and 60 years of operation of a single SMR facility in the province. According to the report:

  • Direct, indirect and spin-off related employment would result in an annual average of approximately: 700 jobs during project development; 1,600 jobs during manufacturing and construction; 200 jobs during operations; and 160 jobs during decommissioning.
  • The estimated positive impact on Gross Domestic Product (GDP) could reach more than $2.5 billion and result in an increase of provincial revenues of more than $870 million.

Beyond that, construction of a new nuclear generator at Darlington is expected to:

  • Drive employment and economic growth, thanks to the strong existing Ontario- and Canada-based nuclear supply chain. It is anticipated that 70 to 80 per cent, or more, of the necessary components and materials for OPG’s SMR will be sourced in Ontario.
  • Spur SMR deployment elsewhere in Canada and abroad. Saskatchewan is also looking to follow Ontario and build SMRs to replace its coal fleet, building up to four SMRs with the first unit in Saskatchewan being in service in the early 2030s. Other countries, including the United Kingdom, the United States, France, Poland and Estonia have all expressed interest in building SMRs, and Ontario would be well placed to contribute to the Canadian and international supply chain.
  • Provide significant environmental benefits to Ontario and reduce emissions elsewhere: clean nuclear power could be used to maintain Ontario’s low carbon electricity grid and help meet emerging electricity needs in the short term due to Pickering closure and electrification, as well as support other jurisdictions’ efforts to phase out coal and Canada’s goals of becoming net zero by 2050.

Site preparation will begin in the spring of 2022, pending appropriate approvals. This work will include installation of the necessary construction services. OPG’s goal is to apply to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) for a License to Construct by the end of 2022.

Quick facts

  • Darlington Nuclear Generating Station is one of the top-performing nuclear stations in the world and generates about 20 per cent of Ontario’s electricity each day.
  • The Darlington New Nuclear Project is the only site in Canada with an approved Environmental Assessment and regulatory licence for new nuclear.
  • Ontario, New Brunswick, Saskatchewan and Alberta have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to collaborate on the advancement of SMRs as a clean energy option to address climate change and regional energy demands, while supporting economic growth and innovation.
  • 2019 study for the Canadian Nuclear Association and Organization of Canadian Nuclear Industries shows the nuclear industry contributes $17 billion per year to the Canadian GDP and supports about 76,000 jobs in Canada.
  • Learn more about the Canadian SMR Action Plan, Canada’s plan for development, demonstration and deployment of SMRs.


“We know nuclear is a key proven zero emissions baseload energy source that will help us achieve net zero as a company by 2040, and act as a catalyst for efficient economy-wide decarbonization by 2050,” said Ken Hartwick, OPG’s President and CEO. “By moving forward, with our industry-leading technology partner GE Hitachi, on deployment of innovative technology for an SMR at Darlington, OPG is paving the way on the development and deployment of the next generation of nuclear power in Canada and beyond.”

“With today’s announcement, Ontario is leading the way in new nuclear technologies – like SMRs – that represent tremendous economic and environmental opportunities for our province and all of Canada,” said Todd Smith, Minister of Energy. “SMRs can provide reliable and emission-free energy while creating jobs, economic growth and export opportunities. Our opportunity to be a leader in this technology and showcase Ontario’s nuclear expertise to the world is right now.”

“We are so pleased to be working with OPG to bring SMR technology to life at Darlington,” said Jay Wileman, President and CEO, GE Hitachi. “This is a significant and concrete action in the fight against climate change that will also create jobs across Ontario and Canada as we leverage the robust and growing nuclear supply chain.”

About OPG

As a global climate change leader and the largest, most diverse electricity generator in the province, OPG and its family of companies are helping lead the charge to a post-carbon economy.

Source: OPG