By Robin MacLennan
Ontario Construction Report staff writer
Ontario Power Generation (OPG) will build three additional small modular reactors (SMRs) at the Darlington nuclear site, bringing the total to four. Once multiple units are deployed, units would produce 1,200 megawatts (MW) of electricity, equivalent to powering 1.2 million homes.
For the first time since 2005, Ontario’s electricity demand is rising and Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator recommended expanding nuclear generation to provide reliable, baseload power to meet increasing electricity needs.
Subject to Ontario Government and Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) regulatory approvals on construction, the additional SMRs could be completed between 2034 and 2036. OPG expects to apply learnings from construction of the first unit to find 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.”
OPG is engaging and consulting with potentially impacted Indigenous communities, including exploring economic opportunities in the Darlington SMR project such as commercial participation and employment.
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 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,” said Ajax MPP Patrice Barnes.