Three More BWRX-300 SMRs Planned for Canada's Darlington Site

GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) said it is working on deployment of three additional BWRX-300 small modular reactors (SMRs) at the Darlington New Nuclear Project site in Ontario, Canada. GEH on July 7 announced it will begin planning and licensing for the SMRs alongside Ontario Power Generation (OPG).

Friday’s announcement comes after the groups in January said they would build an individual BWRX-300 at Darlington, marking the first commercial contract for a grid-scale SMR in North America.

“OPG and the Province of Ontario have staked a leading position in the deployment of new nuclear with a project that will offer significant energy and economic benefits to Ontario and Canada,” said Jay Wileman, president and CEO of GEH. “As a global clean energy leader, the Province of Ontario is an ideal home for this innovative project. We look forward to working closely with the SMR project partners as we build a fleet of new reactors together and demonstrate nuclear project excellence here in Canada.”

“We are looking forward to a long partnership with OPG as we turn the BWRX-300 design into a reality here at the Darlington site,” said Sean Sexstone, executive vice president for Advanced Nuclear at GEH. “The Ontario supply chain has embraced the BWRX-300 project and we are encouraged by the leadership we have seen to meet manufacturing quality and schedule requirements to support this project and our integrated team.”

The BWRX-300 is designed to reduce construction and operating costs below other nuclear power generation technologies. Specifically, the BWRX-300 leverages a unique combination of existing fuel that is currently used in operating reactors (and does not require High-Assay Low-Enriched Uranium, or HALEU), plant simplifications, proven components and a design based on already licensed reactor technology. Source: GEH

The BWRX-300 is a 300-MWe water-cooled, natural circulation SMR with passive safety systems. It leverages the design and licensing basis of GEH’s Economic Simplified Boiling-Water Reactor (ESBWR), which has certification from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The BWRX-300 is the 10th evolution of the boiling water reactor, which GE considers its most innovative since the company began developing nuclear reactors in 1955. The BWRX-300 is moving through the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission’s Vendor Design Review process.

GEH has said the BWRX-300 “is designed to reduce construction and operating costs below other nuclear power generation technologies. The reactor leverages a unique combination of existing fuel, plant simplifications, proven components and a design based on an already licensed reactor.”

GE has worked with the Canadian nuclear power industry since the early 1950s. The company helped build the first Canadian nuclear power plant, the Nuclear Power Demonstration (NPD) reactor that became the basis for the entire CANDU, or Canada Deuterium Uranium, fleet.

Other countries, notably the UK and also Estonia, also have said they want deploy the BWRX-300. The Tennessee Valley Authority in August 2022 began planning and preliminary licensing for potential deployment of a BWRX-300 at the Clinch River Site near Oak Ridge, Tennessee. TVA’s board approved a “New Nuclear Program” that includes the SMR technology earlier this year.

Darrell Proctor is a senior associate editor for POWER (@POWERmagazine).

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