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OPG expects nuclear construction on first SMR to begin in 2025

Kevin Clark

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) expects nuclear construction work on its first small modular reactor (SMR) to begin in 2025, according to filings submitted to Canadian regulators.

The provincial utility is planning to build a total of four SMRs at the Darlington nuclear site and would use  GE Hitachi’s BWRX-300 reactor technology. The four units once deployed would produce a total 1,200 MW of electricity.

In April 2024, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) announced that the existing environmental assessment (EA) for the Darlington New Nuclear Project (DNNP) is applicable to the BWRX?300 reactor.

Meanwhile, OPG told regulators the project has transitioned into the next phase of site preparation, which includes excavation for the first SMR’s power block.

“The CNSC’s decision confirms OPG’s stance related to the EA and is a critical next step in OPG’s application for a [license] to construct the first of the four SMRs at the DNNP site,” said Ken Hartwick, OPG President and CEO.

OPG has said it expects construction on the first reactor to be complete by 2028, with the additional SMRs coming online between 2034 and 2036. The utility aims to take learnings from the construction of the first unit to deliver cost savings on the subsequent units.

“Our fleet approach to both early work and the project as a whole means we can leverage common infrastructure, such as shared roads, utilities, and water intake, which will help to drive down regulatory, construction, and operating costs,” added Hartwick.

Supporting new SMR development and investing in nuclear power is part of the provincial government’s larger plan to prepare for electricity demand in the 2030s and 2040s. Nuclear power currently provides about 50% of Ontario’s electricity supply.

Also at the site, OPG told regulators that its refurbishment project at the large nuclear plant at Darlington remains on plan. Unit 4, the final unit to undergo refurbishment at the Darlington Generating Station, is currently in the component removal phase.

On the plant’s Unit 1, the project completed the lower feeder installation series and the lower body supports installation series, signifying the end of the third major segment of the refurbishment, Reassembly, and the beginning of the final major segment, Power Up.

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