The Canada Infrastructure Bank’s (CIB) announcement today that it will invest $970 million in Ontario Power Generation (OPG) to finance the construction of Canada’s first small modular reactor (SMR) is an important step in bringing a new technology to market that will help Canada become a net-zero carbon emissions nation by 2050. With this federal support, OPG expects that a 300-megawatt SMR on the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station site will be online by 2028.
“Today’s announcement is a wonderful example of the federal and provincial governments working together with industry to bring forward effective, affordable and innovative climate solutions,” said Society of United Professionals President Michelle Johnston, who leads the union of more than 8,500 members largely employed in Ontario’s energy sector. “With federal support to bring the world’s first commercial-grade small modular nuclear reactor to market, Canada has the potential to be a global leader in SMR just as we are in CANDU nuclear technology.”
The CIB financing is provided at lower rates and with fewer conditions than conventional private investment, which will ultimately result in lower hydro bills for Ontarians. This investment will allow OPG to complete Phase 1 work on the SMR, which includes everything up to nuclear construction, such as project design, site preparation, and long lead-time equipment procurement. The Society of United Professionals has consistently supported OPG’s SMR development program, including at Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission regulatory hearings.
A 2020 Conference Board of Canada study found that SMRs will be a valuable source of jobs. Each SMR will create 700 jobs in project development, 1,600 jobs in construction and manufacturing, 200 jobs while the unit operates, and a further 160 jobs once it is decommissioned. The same study found that deploying an SMR in Ontario can generate $2.6 billion in GDP, $1.7 billion in wages, and $873 million in taxes for the economy.
“While SMRs will play a key role in decarbonizing Canada’s energy grid from coast to coast to coast, the reality is that we will also need new, full-sized CANDU nuclear stations in strategic locations as the demand for electricity doubles or triples during the transition from fossil fuels over the coming decades,” said Johnston. “Energy professionals will be looking to the provincial and federal governments to ensure appropriate vehicles exist to finance new CANDUs, including expanding the Green Bond framework to include nuclear technologies.”
Founded more than 70 years ago, the Society of United Professionals is the union of choice for engineers, scientists, supervisors and other professionals at Ontario Power Generation, Independent Electricity System Operator, Ontario Energy Board, Bruce Power, and other public sector, private sector, and regulatory agencies in and beyond the provincial energy sector.