Canada’s national nuclear laboratory initiates process for the construction and operation of SMR demonstration projects AECL sites
Chalk River, ON, April 17, 2018 – Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL), Canada’s premier nuclear science and technology organization, is pleased to announce that it has issued an invitation to small modular reactor (SMR) project proponents who wish to participate in the evaluation process for the construction and operation of an SMR demonstration project at a CNL-managed site. The invitation represents the launch of CNL’s SMR review process, including the Pre-Qualification stage, which allows CNL to evaluate technical and business merits of proposed designs, assess the financial viability of the projects, and review the necessary national security and integrity requirements.
The invitation will remain open, with rounds of intake periods expected to occur semi-annually. Applications received by May 28, 2018 will be assessed in the first round. All projects would be subject to regulatory processes and requirements.
“CNL is proud to extend this invitation to SMR project proponents from around the world, and to take one of the most important steps towards the successful deployment of a small modular reactor in Canada,” commented Mark Lesinski, CNL President and CEO. “CNL is uniquely positioned to support the development of this technology – from concept to deployment – thanks to our experience in Canada’s regulatory environment, our well established compliance programs, fully-equipped laboratories and our expertise in all areas of nuclear science and technology. Based on early discussions with our stakeholders and the broader nuclear industry, we anticipate strong interest and enthusiasm for this announcement.”
CNL has identified SMRs as one of seven strategic initiatives the company intends to pursue as part of its Long-Term Strategy, with the goal of siting an SMR on an AECL site before 2030. The company is working to demonstrate the commercial viability of SMRs and hopes to position itself as a global leader in SMR prototype testing and technology development support. This invitation follows CNL’s Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEOI) on SMRs, released late last year, which yielded responses from 80 organizations around the world, including 19 expressions of interest in siting a prototype or demonstration reactor at a CNL-managed site.
Applicants pursuing an SMR demonstration project will need to proceed through four individual stages. Following the Pre-Qualification stage, which will assess proponents against preliminary criteria, applicants must complete the Due Diligence stage, which will require more stringent financial requirements and a full assessment of funding and project costs. The third phase, Negotiation of Land Arrangement and Other Contracts, would culminate in the signing of a site disposition agreement with Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL), owner of the CNL-managed sites. Finally, the Project Execution stage would include licensing and construction, testing and commissioning, and operation and decommissioning of the SMR unit.
“This invitation process was specifically designed by CNL to challenge SMR project proponents to address various issues in their planning, and to provide CNL and AECL with the necessary information to make informed decisions,” commented Richard Sexton, President and CEO of AECL. “The potential of SMRs is extremely exciting, but we have a responsibility to make sure that projects are technically feasible, bring value for money for Canada and Canadians, and most importantly, are safe for the environment, workers and the public.”
CNL believes that the world needs improved access to dependable energy, this includes nuclear. Over the past decade, SMRs have increasingly been recognized for their potential as an appealing source of clean and safe energy. They are thought to offer several advantages over traditional technologies, including a reduced size, reliable power output; the ability to purchase and construct in a modular way, decreasing up-front capital costs; simpler, less complex plants; and a reduced staff complement. SMRs also retain the positive attributes of traditional nuclear reactors, including the safe and reliable production of energy with limited emission of greenhouse gasses. Notably, given the flexibility in operation, SMR technology is considered an enabler to the growth of other renewable energy sources, such as wind or solar.
In addition to electricity generation, SMRs could be part of a broader energy system that could include applications such as district heating, co-generation, energy storage, desalination, or hydrogen production. Taken together, all of these advantages make SMR deployment in Canada very appealing, offering a number of positive economic benefits to communities, alignment with national commitments to fight climate change, important applications for remote communities, and the potential to enhance nuclear safety through next-generation nuclear technology.
For more information on CNL’s SMR program, and to review CNL’s invitation to SMR project proponents, please visit www.cnl.ca/smr.
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Director, Corporate Communications