New Brunswick awards additional funding for SMR development

February 17, 2021, 7:00AMNuclear News

New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs announces C$20 million in funding for the ARC-100 small modular reactor. Photo: ARC Canada

The Canadian province of New Brunswick has awarded C$20 million (about $15.7 million) to ARC Clean Energy Canada (ARC Canada) to support the development of the proposed ARC-100 advanced small modular reactor. The premier of New Brunswick, Blaine Higgs, announced the award during his state of the province address on February 10.

ARC Canada, headquartered in Saint John, New Brunswick, is a subsidiary of U.S.-based ARC Clean Energy, formerly known as Advanced Reactor Concepts. The company’s ARC-100 is a 100-MWe integrated sodium-cooled fast reactor that uses a metallic uranium alloy fuel. Based on Argonne National Laboratory’s Experimental Breeder Reactor-II, the reactor is designed to operate for 20-plus years without refueling.

In October 2019, ARC Canada announced that it had completed the first phase of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission’s (CNSC) vendor design review. (While the phase-one assessment provides detailed feedback regarding a vendor’s understanding of the CNSC’s requirements for a nuclear power plant in Canada, it does not certify the design or license the reactor.)

ARC covenants: ARC Clean Energy—along with U.K.-based Moltex Energy, developer of the Moltex Stable Salt Reactor—received C$5 million (about $3.9 million) from New Brunswick in 2018 as part of an agreement to work on SMR development in the province. The agreement also envisioned the deployment of ARC and Moltex demonstration units by 2030 at NB Power’s Point Lepreau plant, currently home to one 660-MWe CANDU-6 pressurized heavy-water reactor.

In addition, in November of last year, ARC announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding with NB Power and Moltex “to create synergies by establishing a small modular reactor vendor cluster in New Brunswick.” This initiative, ARC stated, would allow ARC Canada to collaborate with the other parties in areas such as supply chain development, shared technology education, trades initiatives, and common research and development.

What they’re saying: “The $20 million of funding being provided by the province of New Brunswick is conditioned on ARC Canada providing matching funding to increase economic impact,” said Donald Wolf, ARC Canada’s chairman. “ARC Canada intends to obtain the required C$30 million of matching funds from private investors. This funding milestone will play an integral role in the deployment of our proven, inherently safe clean energy technology in the late 2020s.”

Mike Holland, New Brunswick’s natural resources and energy development minister, added, “We believe that the best way to ensure that Canada, specifically New Brunswick, becomes a leader in advanced small modular reactor development and deployment is through continued engagement and partnerships. We feel that this technology can be developed in New Brunswick, putting our province on the map as a global emissions reduction leader.”

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