As a federal Crown corporation, it is AECL’s role to enable nuclear science and technology and to drive nuclear innovation for Canada. We have asked Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL), which manages our sites on our behalf, to set out a plan and vision to enable this. CNL has responded by setting out an objective to become a hub for small modular reactor research and technology, including to have a demonstration unit built at an AECL site by 2026.
In 2018, CNL started a process to invite applications from organizations interested in siting a small modular reactor demonstration project at one of AECL’s sites. CNL recently provided an update on the process whereby two respondents, Starcore Nuclear and Terrestrial Energy have successfully completed the pre-qualification stage of CNL’s invitation.
Global First Power with its key partners Ontario Power Generation and Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation has progressed through the second stage of the invitation process, and has been invited to participate in preliminary, non-exclusive discussions regarding potential land arrangements, project risk management, and contractual terms (Stage 3).
AECL is participating in these discussions in order to further evaluate the viability and benefits of Global First Power’s proposal, which will be informed by additional due diligence. These negotiations are not an indication of project approval, and the proposal and proponent must satisfy further stringent evaluation.
In parallel to these negotiations, Global First Power has independently submitted an application to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, Canada’s independent nuclear regulator, for a licence to prepare a site for a small modular reactor at the Chalk River Laboratories.
No decisions regarding the potential siting of a small modular reactor at Chalk River have been made. AECL remains in discussions with CNL and Global First Power to evaluate the viability and benefits of Global First Power’s proposal. Furthermore, only the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission has the authority to grant operating licences for nuclear activities in Canada and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission will determine whether the proposed facility is safe.
AECL and CNL continue to engage local and Indigenous communities on plans for small modular reactors to seek views and inputs.
About small modular reactors
Small Modular Reactors are small reactors that are aimed at new markets to tackle global needs for safe, clean, economic energy. In Canada, this could mean new clean energy options for replacing coal, greening mining and improving energy security for remote communities.
Opportunities related to small modular reactors are exciting, particularly in the context of Canada’s goal to reduce greenhouse gases emission in the fight against climate change. Potential economic benefits given Canada’s expertise and existing supply chain are also noteworthy.
Learn more about small modular reactors on our website.