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The next evolution of nuclear power

The future of clean power could lie in safe, small, scalable nuclear power plants – and OPG is working to bring this exciting new technology to Canada.

Like traditional nuclear reactors, small modular reactors, or SMRs, are designed to provide reliable, carbon-free electricity. But unlike conventional reactors, SMRs are much smaller both physically and in their land footprint, modular in that they are factory constructed and then delivered to site, and have other uses beyond electricity generation. They produce heat that can be easily used for other applications like district heating for commercial or residential needs, hybrid energy systems, water desalination, or heavy industry applications.

SMRs ranging in size from 1 megawatt (MW) to 300 MW could augment Ontario and Canada’s supply of clean energy while providing heat and reliable power to industrial operations as well as remote, rural communities that rely on dirty diesel generation. The innovative new technology also presents a significant growth opportunity for OPG.

OPG, along with other Canadian power companies, government representatives and industry organizations urged the federal government to provide funding for the development of prototype reactors in a recently released Canadian roadmap study for SMR deployment. The report found Canada is uniquely positioned to lead the world in SMR development given its long history in nuclear power.

In an effort to bring SMRs to Canada, OPG is collaborating with NuScale Power, which has designed a ground-breaking SMR pressurized-water reactor capable of generating 60 MW of electricity. The Portland, Oregon-based company’s SMR is factory-made and offers scalable power based on need.

A Small Modular Reactor (right) compared to a traditional nuclear reactor.
A Small Modular Reactor (right) compared to a traditional nuclear reactor.

In November, OPG and NuScale signed a Memorandum of Understanding that will support the expansion of NuScale’s SMR design to the Canadian market. As part of the agreement, OPG will lend its 50-plus years of safe nuclear experience as NuScale’s design goes through a review process by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission to ensure it meets all regulatory requirements.

“We are extremely fortunate to have OPG’s valuable nuclear regulatory and utility expertise,” said John Hopkins, NuScale Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.

OPG has also signed Memorandums of Understanding with Bruce Power and Ontario’s Global First Power, which formalize how the companies can work together to pursue potential SMR opportunities in Canada.

Fast facts

  • SMRs are much smaller than a traditional reactor
  • They generate heat and power through nuclear fission
  • They are factory constructed and delivered to site
  • There are currently more than 150 proposed SMR designs world wide