Canada, Poland to collaborate on SMR technologies

February 21, 2023, 3:17PMNuclear News
CNSC’s Rumina Velshi (left) and the PAA’s Andrzej Głowacki sign a memorandum of cooperation on advanced and small modular reactors. (Photo: CNSC)

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) and Poland’s National Atomic Energy Agency (PAA) have signed a memorandum of cooperation to share best practices and experience in reviewing advanced and small modular reactor technologies. (The two agencies are already engaged in cooperation on nuclear safety matters under a memorandum of understanding inked in 2014.)

The new agreement was signed February 13 in Abu Dhabi on the sidelines of an International Atomic Energy Agency conference by CNSC president Rumina Velshi and PAA vice president/acting president Andrzej Głowacki.

According to the agencies’ joint announcement, the agreement’s sphere of cooperation “may expand to facilitate a joint technical review” of reactor designs, including GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy’s (GEH’s) BWRX-300 SMR. Such a review, the announcement added, could include cooperation in the following:

  • Development of shared technical review approaches for advanced and SMR technologies that facilitate resolution of common technical questions to enable regulatory reviews that address each participant’s national regulations.
  • Collaboration on preapplication activities to ensure mutual preparedness to efficiently review reactor designs, including sharing independent regulatory review results.
  • Collaboration on research, training, and development of regulatory approaches to address unique and novel technical considerations for ensuring the safety of the technologies.

Signer’s language: “Today we took the first step enabling joint activities with CNSC in the field of small modular reactors,” said Głowacki. “The experience gained in the field of regulatory review will contribute to the optimization of the licensing process and the harmonization of the regulatory approach. This, in turn, will enable more efficient implementation of these technologies in Poland and in the world.”

The tech: 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, because of design simplification, the BWRX-300 should require significantly lower capital costs per megawatt than other water-cooled SMR designs or existing large nuclear reactor designs. It is currently undergoing a prelicensing vendor design review by the CNSC.

Background: In December 2021, Ontario Power Generation announced its selection of GEH as the technology partner for its new nuclear build project. The companies intend to deploy the BWRX-300 at OPG’s Darlington nuclear plant, located in Clarington, Ontario.

Also in December of that year, GEH, BWXT Canada, and Polish firm Synthos Green Energy (SGE) announced their plan to deploy the BWRX-300 in Poland. With its partners, SGE hopes to deploy at least 10 of the SMRs in the Central European state by the early 2030s.

According to the announcement, BWXT Canada’s supply chain participation in the plan could generate more than C$1 billion (about $740 million) in GDP for Canada, accelerate decarbonization of the Polish economy, and increase its competitiveness.

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