Notwithstanding the snubbing of nuclear in its recently released Green Bond Framework, the Canadian government is showing support for small modular reactors in its 2022 budget plan, which was presented to the House of Commons by the minister of finance, Chrystia Freeland, on April 7.
According to the Canadian Nuclear Association, “This is the first documented government policy that provides explicit financial support for SMRs as a key solution for climate change.”
SMR specifics: “Small modular reactors offer a promising pathway to support Canada’s low-carbon energy transition, and they are less complex, easier to operate, and more cost-effective than current nuclear technology,” the budget states. “Support to develop this technology can position Canada as a clean energy leader, support the decarbonization of provincial electricity grids in places like New Brunswick and Saskatchewan, facilitate the transition away from diesel power in remote communities, and help decarbonize heavy emitting industries.”
The 2022 budget proposes to provide Can$69.9 million (about $55.6 million) for Natural Resources Canada to undertake research to minimize waste generated from SMRs, support the creation of a fuel supply chain, strengthen international nuclear cooperation agreements, and enhance domestic safety and security policies and practices. The budget also proposes to allocate Can$50.7 million (about $40.3 million) for the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission to build the capacity to regulate SMRs and work with international partners on global regulatory harmonization.
Also, in a move that could potentially affect SMR development, the budget would broaden the role of the Canada Infrastructure Bank, which was created in 2017 to attract private capital to major infrastructure projects.
In 2020, the CIB announced a three-year, Can$10 billion (about $8 billion) growth plan, a goal of which was to help Canada hit its emissions-reduction targets. The 2022 budget would permit the CIB to invest in private sector–led infrastructure projects aimed at accelerating Canada’s transition to a low-carbon economy. This would allow the CIB to invest in SMRs, as well as clean fuel production; hydrogen production, transportation and distribution; and carbon capture, utilization, and storage.