Planning resumes on Darlington New Nuclear to help secure Ontario’s clean energy future
OPG’s Darlington Nuclear site in Clarington could soon be home to one of the province’s first Small Modular Reactors (SMR), the next generation of nuclear technology.
On Nov. 13, with Darlington Nuclear Generating Station serving as the backdrop, OPG announced it will resume planning activities for a new nuclear build at Darlington with the goal of hosting a grid-size SMR by as early as 2028, pending regulatory approvals.
Taking part in the major announcement was Ken Hartwick, OPG’s President and CEO, and Greg Rickford, Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines, and Minister of Indigenous Affairs. They were joined by Durham MPP Lindsey Park, Durham Regional Chair John Henry, Clarington Mayor Adrian Foster, and other community representatives.
The news was lauded as a major step toward fighting climate change and boosting the provincial economy.
“This is an exciting day for OPG, our employees, and the wider nuclear industry,” Hartwick said. “A new SMR development on this site would benefit all Ontarians while further positioning Durham Region and Ontario as the clean energy capital of the world.”
OPG’s Darlington Nuclear station already plays a major role in the supply of clean energy for the province, meeting 20 per cent of Ontario’s electricity needs with reliable, safe, zero-emission power. After its four-unit refurbishment is complete by 2026, the station will provide clean power for many more decades.
A new SMR development promises to augment Darlington’s clean output and help position Ontario as a leader in an emerging global market, Hartwick said.
Just like the reactors at OPG’s Darlington and Pickering nuclear stations, SMRs offer reliable, safe, zero-carbon electricity. But unlike traditional reactors, they are smaller in size and output.
They will be able to help power cities as well as remote communities and heavy industry that currently rely on diesel fuel. And, they will be an important tool to help Ontario and Canada achieve net-zero carbon economies.
Developing this versatile new technology will also provide many new opportunities for Ontario’s expansive nuclear sector and supply chain, creating highly skilled jobs.
Over the past few years, OPG has been closely monitoring the latest developments in SMR technology. In early October, the company announced it is working with three grid-scale SMR technology developers – GE Hitachi, Terrestrial Energy, and X-energy – to advance engineering and design work, with the goal of identifying options for future deployment.
“Our government is proud to support OPG’s efforts to develop cutting-edge SMR technology right here in Durham at the Darlington Nuclear Station by the end of this decade,” said Minister Rickford. “Ontario and our provincial partners in Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Alberta are leading the charge on SMR deployment in Canada and showcasing our nuclear expertise and made-in-Ontario technology to the world.”
Darlington is the only site in Canada currently licensed for new nuclear with a completed and accepted Environmental Assessment. In June 2020, OPG applied to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission to renew its licence to allow for site preparation activities for a new nuclear development, the first of several regulatory approvals and licencing required before construction and operation of a new reactor can begin.
“While much work remains, we hope that soon, Darlington and Ontario can serve as a model for SMR development and deployment for the world,” Hartwick said.