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SMRs would provide economic boost to Ontario, says report

The construction and operation of four small modular reactors (SMRs) by Ontario Power Generation at its Darlington site will contribute about CAD15.3 billion (USD11.2 billion) to Canada’s GDP, including CAD13.7 billion to Ontario’s GDP, according to a report by the Conference Board of Canada. The units will create and sustain 2000 jobs each year in Canada over the next 65 years, it says.

“There is now an increasing need for investing in stable and reliable energy resources, such as commercial-scale SMR technology,” the report says. “The deployment of more nuclear power in Ontario is a major investment decision. It is therefore important to understand the potential economic benefits for the province and the country of investing in new nuclear power generation.”

Conference Board of Canada partnered with Ontario Power Generation (OPG) to analyse the economic impact and fiscal benefits of building and operating four SMRs within Ontario.

It found the SMRs would have a substantial positive impact on the Ontario and Canadian economies, with Ontario reaping 89% of the economic benefit associated with the project.

Each SMR built would increase GDP by nearly CAD3.8 billion and provide 500 jobs annually over the 65-year period. In addition, the amount of tax revenues accruing to all levels of government is expected to be about CAD4.9 billion over the next 65 years, which includes plant construction and operations. The expected number of jobs created by the project will be about 113,161 provincially and 128,431 nationally.

“The economic impact, or the ratio of increased GDP to spending (the ‘economic multiplier’) is 0.82 – each dollar spent would increase Canadian GDP by CAD0.82 across the total lifespan of the technologies,” Conference Board of Canada found.

On 31 October last year, OPG submitted an application to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) for a licence to construct a GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) BWRX-300 at the Darlington site. This licence is required before any nuclear construction work on the SMR can begin. However, site preparation work is already under way at the site. OPG expects to make a construction decision by the end of 2024. Construction of the unit is scheduled to be completed by late 2028, with the supply of power to the grid set to start in 2029.

The Ontario government announced in July it is working with OPG to begin planning and licensing for three additional BWRX-300 reactors at Darlington. Subject to Ontario Government and CNSC regulatory approvals on construction, the additional SMRs could come online between 2034 and 2036. This timing would allow OPG to apply learnings from the construction of the first unit to deliver cost savings on subsequent units, the government noted. Building multiple units will also allow common infrastructure such as cooling water intake, transmission connection and control room to be utilised by all four units instead of just one, reducing costs even further.

“Being the first North American mover of this innovative technology positions Ontario as a world leader in nuclear and a welcoming destination for new business,” said OPG President and CEO Ken Hartwick. “Our plan to construct four new reactors at Darlington will also generate opportunities across Ontario and Canada as suppliers of nuclear components and services have an opportunity to expand to serve the growing SMR market here and abroad.”

Source: World Nuclear News