OPG, X-energy seek industrial sites for the Xe-100 to supply clean power and heat

July 12, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear News

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) and X-energy will look for opportunities to deploy the Xe-100 high-temperature, gas-cooled reactor at industrial sites in Ontario and identify further potential end users and sites throughout Canada under an agreement announced today.

A cross-section view of X-energy’s Xe-100 reactor. (Image: X-energy)

Flexible by design: One of X-energy’s Xe-100 reactors can generate up to 80 MWe from 200 MWt, and multiple reactors can be sited together to scale up output as needed. As a pebble bed HTGR, the Xe-100 would use TRISO particles encased in graphite pebbles as the fuel and helium as the coolant. Capable of providing both high-temperature steam at 565 °C and electricity, the Xe-100 could enable decarbonization of industrial end-use applications, including oil sands operations, mining applications, and other industrial processes.

Part of a plan: Natural Resources Canada’s (NRCan) SMR Action Plan says development and deployment of SMRs in Canada could yield up to C$19 billion in total annual economic impact between 2030 and 2040, creating more than 6,000 new jobs annually across the country. The plan shows an estimated global value of SMRs of C$150 billion per year by 2040 to replace coal-fired generation, provide heat and power for mines, provide steam for heavy industry, and supply power to remote island nations and off-grid communities. In addition to economic benefits, SMRs can help meet climate change and energy security goals.

In November 2021, OPG announced it would work together with GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy to deploy a BWXR-300 SMR at the Darlington new nuclear site, the only site in Canada currently licensed for a new nuclear construction. Prior to that announcement, X-energy and Terrestrial Energy had also been identified by OPG as potential SMR vendors. In December 2021, it was announced that X-energy Canada has signed a memorandum of understanding with the First Nations Power Authority to look for ways to build “indigenous capacity” for the future SMR industry in Canada.

Meanwhile in the U.S.: TRISO-X submitted a license application for a high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) fuel fabrication facility to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission in April, the day after parent company X-energy announced that TRISO-X had secured a 110-acre site in Oak Ridge, Tenn., for the construction of the facility, which it is aiming to have in operation in 2025.

The fuel facility would supply HALEU fuel pebbles for the Xe-100 demo planned for construction in Washington state by a partnership formed between X-energy, Energy Northwest, and the Grant County Public Utility District, with support from the Department of Energy’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program.

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and the NRC completed a 23-page joint report in August 2021 on a white paper by X-energy regarding reactor pressure vessel construction code specifications for the Xe-100.

They said it: “As part of our climate change plan, we pledged to assist with efficient economy-wide decarbonization,” said OPG president and chief executive officer Ken Hartwick. “Working with X-energy on the Xe-100, we can help heavy industry reach climate change goals by using clean, safe electricity and high temperature steam efficiently produced through evolutionary nuclear technology to power their production facilities and enable decarbonization of their industrial processes.”

“X-energy Canada is deeply committed to addressing our clean energy challenges in Ontario and across Canada,” said Katherine Moshonas Cole, president of X-energy Canada. “We are delighted to be working with OPG’s experienced team to advance the deployment of the Xe-100 technology. Through this framework, we look forward to demonstrating how our advanced SMRs can accelerate the decarbonization of industrial operations in Canada, which is critical to meeting our provincial and national climate change goals.”

“Ontario continues to lead in nuclear innovation and clean energy solutions,” said Todd Smith, Ontario minister of energy. “Our early investments in SMR technology and our ongoing collaborations with governments across Canada and the globe are reducing emissions while driving economic growth, jobs, and exciting opportunities for our province and country.”

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