The construction of four SMRs in Ontario is expected to increase gross domestic product (GDP) by C$15.3bn ($11.2bn) in Canada, including C$13.7bn to Ontario’s GDP, according to a report by the Conference Board of Canada. The project will also create an average of 2,000 jobs per year for the next 65 years.

The report said: “There is an increasing need for investing in stable and reliable energy resources, such as commercial-scale SMR technology. The deployment of more nuclear power in Ontario is a major investment decision. It is therefore important to understand the potential economic benefits for the province and the country of investing in new nuclear power generation.”

According to the report, building the SMRs creates 113,161 jobs in Ontario alone, while creating 128,431 nationally. Ontario will reap 89% of the benefit, with the remaining 11% of domestic economic gain spread across other provinces and territories. Taxes generated will total $4.4bn in Ontario and $4.9bn nationally.

In October 2022, electric utility Ontario Power Generation (OPG) submitted an application to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission requesting a licence to construct a GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy BWRX-300 SMR at the Darlington site in Ontario. While the licence is required for any nuclear construction work to begin at the site, preparation work is already under way. OPG expects the request will be granted by the end of 2024, and according to this timeline, the unit will be completed by late 2028 and supply power to the grid in 2029.

OPG president and CEO Ken Hartwick said: “Our plan to construct  four new reactors at Darlington will generate opportunities across Ontario and Canada as suppliers of nuclear components and services have an opportunity to expand to serve the growing SMR market here and abroad.”

The diminutive size of SMRs means they can be sited at locations unsuited to larger nuclear power plants. The technology is designed to save on cost and construction time and be deployed incrementally to match increasing energy demand.

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Currently, around 15% of Canada’s electricity comes from nuclear power, with 19 reactors mostly based in Ontario providing 13.6GW of power.