Ontario Building More Small Modular Reactors to Power Province’s Growth
Clean, Reliable Nuclear Energy Will Help Meet Rising Electricity Demand
July 07, 2023
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CLARINGTON – The Ontario government is working with Ontario Power Generation (OPG) to commence planning and licensing for three additional small modular reactors (SMRs), for a total of four SMRs at the Darlington nuclear site. Once deployed, these four units would produce a total 1,200 megawatts (MW) of electricity, equivalent to powering 1.2 million homes, helping to meet increasing demand from electrification and fuel the province’s strong economic growth.
“Our government’s open for business approach has led to unprecedented investments across the province — from electric vehicles and battery manufacturing to critical minerals to green steel,” said Todd Smith, Minister of Energy. “Expanding Ontario’s world-leading SMR program will ensure we have the reliable, affordable and clean electricity we need to power the next major international investment, the new homes we are building and industries as they grow and electrify.”
For the first time since 2005, Ontario’s electricity demand is rising. While the government has implemented its plan to meet rising electricity demand this decade, the experts at Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator have recommended the province advance new nuclear generation to provide reliable, baseload power to meet increasing electricity needs in the 2030s and beyond.
Subject to Ontario Government and Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) regulatory approvals on construction, the additional SMRs could come online between 2034 and 2036. This timing would allow Ontario Power Generation to apply learnings from the construction of the first unit to deliver cost savings on subsequent units. Building multiple units will also allow common infrastructure such as cooling water intake, transmission connection and control room to be utilized by all four units instead of just one, reducing costs even further.
“A fleet of SMRs at the Darlington New Nuclear Site is key to meeting growing electricity demands and net zero goals,” said Ken Hartwick, OPG President and CEO. “OPG has proven its large nuclear project expertise through the on-time, on budget Darlington Refurbishment project. By taking a similar approach to building a fleet of SMRs, we will deliver cost and schedule savings, and power 1.2 million homes from this site by the mid-2030s.”
The Darlington SMR project is situated on the traditional and treaty territories of the seven Williams Treaties First Nations and is also located within the traditional territory of the Huron Wendat peoples. OPG is actively engaging and consulting with potentially impacted Indigenous communities, including exploring economic opportunities in the Darlington SMR project such as commercial participation and employment.
Ontario’s robust nuclear supply chain is uniquely positioned to support SMR development and deployment in Ontario, Canada and globally. Building additional SMRs at Darlington would provide more opportunities for Ontario companies as suppliers of nuclear equipment, components, and services to make further investments to expand their operation to serve the growing SMR market both domestically and abroad.
Supporting new SMR development and investing in nuclear power is part of the government’s larger plan to prepare for electricity demand in the 2030s and 2040s that will build on Ontario’s clean electricity advantage and ensure the province has the power to maintain it’s position as leader in job creation and a magnet for the industries of the future.
- The Independent Electricity System Operator’s Pathways to Decarbonization Report forecast that in less than 30 years Ontario could need to more than double its electricity generation capacity from 42,000 MW today to 88,000 MW in 2050. The report forecast an additional 17,800 MW of nuclear power could be required to meet that increased demand.
- Nuclear power currently provides about 50 per cent of Ontario’s electricity supply and has positioned Ontario as one of the cleanest electricity grids in the world.
- To meet growing electricity demand this decade Ontario is conducting Canada’s largest clean energy storage procurement, has invested more than $1 billion in energy efficiency programs, is supporting the continued safe operation of the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station and has re-contracted existing electricity generation resources at a 30 per cent discount, keeping costs down for ratepayers.
- In December of 2022 OPG broke ground to prepare for the first grid-scale SMR in Canada and the G7 at Darlington. OPG is partnering with GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, SNC-Lavalin, and Aecon on the project, with construction of the first unit scheduled to be complete by 2028.
“The Darlington and Pickering Nuclear Generating Stations are world renowned for producing clean, safe, and reliable energy for millions of homes and businesses, while supporting thousands of jobs and powering Ontario’s economy. The announcement that the province will start planning for and licensing an additional three Small Modular Reactors on the Darlington Site is exciting news for the residents of Durham as this investment will create new jobs and power growth here in Durham region and across the province.”
– Todd McCarthy
MPP for Durham
“The expansion of Ontario’s SMR program means businesses can be certain that when they pick Ontario to expand and improve their operations, the province will be able to meet the need for reliable, affordable and clean power. And not only will these SMRs bring reliable power to Durham region, but also more good-paying jobs.”
– Patrice Barnes
MPP for Ajax
“Today, we take a significant stride towards a cleaner and more prosperous Ontario. These SMRs will fuel our province’s economic growth, meet increasing demand from the energy grid, and will help create new jobs right here in Durham Region.”
– Peter Bethlenfalvy
MPP for Pickering-Uxbridge
“The additional SMRs will provide safe and reliable power to meet the growing needs of Region of Durham communities, create good-paying jobs for local residents and help the province meet our environmental goals.”
– Lorne Coe
MPP for Whitby
Small modular reactors
Learn more about Ontario’s SMR future.
Ontario Breaks Ground on World-Leading Small Modular Reactor
Learn about Canada’s first grade-scale SMR.
A Strategic Plan for the Deployment of Small Modular Reactors
Read the plan prepared by the Governments of Ontario, New Brunswick, Saskatchewan and Alberta.
Business and Economy
Information about Ontario’s economy and how to do business here. Includes economic development opportunities, research funding, tax credits for business and the Ontario Budget. Learn more
Environment and Energy
Learn more about how Ontario protects and restores wildlife and the environment. Includes information on conservation and the electricity system. Learn more