GE Hitachi SMR chosen for Darlington project

December 3, 2021, 7:00AMNuclear News
Artist’s rendering of a BWRX-300 plant. (Photo: GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy)

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) has selected GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) as its technology partner for the Darlington nuclear new-build project. The companies will work to deploy GEH’s BWRX-300 small modular reactor at OPG’s Darlington nuclear plant, located in Clarington, Ontario.

An evolution of GEH’s 1,520-MWe Generation III+ ESBWR design (approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 2014), the BWRX-300 is a 300-MWe water-cooled, natural-circulation SMR with passive safety systems. According to GEH, as a result of design simplification, the BWRX-300 should require significantly lower capital costs per MW than other water-cooled SMR designs or existing large nuclear reactor designs. It is currently undergoing a pre-licensing vendor design review by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC).

What they’re saying: “We are thrilled to be selected by OPG as a technology partner,” said Jay Wileman, president and chief executive officer of GEH. “OPG is Ontario’s climate change leader and is positioned to become a world leader in SMRs. Together, this partnership will bring jobs and economic benefits to the Durham Region, Ontario, and Canada, and potential global export of this technology.”

Ken Hartwick, OPG’s president and CEO, said, “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.” Through its collaboration with GEH at Darlington, he continued, “OPG is paving the way on the development and deployment of the next generation of nuclear power in Canada and beyond.”

Background: Darlington, home to four 878-MWe CANDU pressurized water reactors, is the only site in Canada currently licensed for new nuclear. OPG was granted a license by the CNSC in 2012 to allow site preparation activities for a nuclear new-build project. The license was renewed last October and is now valid until October 11, 2031.

In October 2020, OPG announced that it was working with three grid-scale SMR technology developers—GEH, Terrestrial Energy, and X-energy—to advance engineering and design work, with the goal of identifying options for future deployment. The following month, the utility announced the resumption of planning activities for future nuclear power generation at Darlington, with the goal of hosting a grid-size SMR as soon as 2028. (An earlier project plan had focused on the construction of traditional large reactors.)

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