Menu of Nuclear Options Begins to Grow

Ontario Power Generation and partners signed a commercial contract to build a GE Hitachi-designed BWRX-300 small modular reactor (SMR). Several other groups are also looking at the BWRX-300, which at 300 MWs, is about 1/3rd the size of a traditional 1GW reactor. This further expands the menu options for those looking at nuclear.

Ontario Power Generation, GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, SNC-Lavalin, and Aecon Group signed a contract to deploy a BWRX-300 small modular reactor at OPG’s Darlington New Nuclear Project site in Clarington, Ontario.  According to their announcement, this may represent the first grid-scale SMR to be built in North America, which represents an important expansion in the menu of options available to those seeking low-carbon power generation.

There are many other interested potential buyers not far behind OPG. The Tennessee Valley Authority began planning and preliminary licensing for possible deployment of a BWRX-300 at the Clinch River Site near Oak Ridge, Tennessee. TVA is collaborating with OPG to advance SMR technology and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission are working together to license the two projects, according to GEH.

The OPG agreement, however, is a firm contract with a utility, an architecture engineer and a construction company to actually build the plant, rather than an LOI or MOU, and in this respect it is a milestone for the industry. In addition, Saskatchewan Power Corp. said in June it selected the BWRX-300 for possible deployment in Saskatchewan in the mid-2030s.

In addition to the GEH BWRX-300, the NuScale Voygr plant was recently added to the menu of available advanced plant options. NuScale has already received federal approval for its 50MW, maximum 12-pack reactor design and it’s working to get approval for an uprated model with base units of 77MW. Together these two new designs represent a 200% increase in the number of available nuclear designs and sizes available to prospective buyers, in addition to the AP1000, with 1117 MWe, the first two of which are nearing completion at the Vogtle plant in Georgia. 

Learn more at UtilityDive, GE Hitachi and 3 partners announce first commercial contract for grid-scale SMR in North America, by Stephen Singer, Jan. 30, 2023.