Getting to Zero – The Role of Small Modular Reactors

For years, OSPE has been advocating for effective energy policies at the provincial and federal levels of government to ensure a safe, reliable, affordable, sustainable and abundant energy
supply for businesses and residents.

OSPE and its Energy Task Force are glad that both the provincial and federal governments have understood the great opportunity Ontario and Canada have in developing Small Modular
Reactors (SMRs).

OSPE supports Canada’s Small Modular Reaction (SMR) Action Plan and its Statement of Principles, and applauds Ontario’s progress and investments in nuclear energy. With the recent
announcement of Canada’s first grid-scale SMR at the Darlington site, OSPE believes Ontario is leading the way in new nuclear technologies that represent tremendous economic and environmental opportunities for our province. These investments will create jobs for engineers, while reducing our greenhouse gas emissions.

OSPE supports the development of SMRs because nuclear energy is known to be an effective way to reduce atmospheric emissions, while boosting economic and regional growth. A review of major industrial jurisdictions confirms that dependable low emission electricity can be produced affordably with any combination of nuclear energy and hydroelectricity for our base-
load electricity requirements.

The deployment of nuclear energy using large water-cooled reactors has been hampered by the public’s concerns about long-lived radioactive fuel wastes, radioactive releases following major equipment failures, weapon proliferation and recent cost over-runs for large nuclear projects in developed countries. SMR technology developers have proposed several design versions, each with a combination of features that addresses those public concerns. Some SMR designs can also meet the various needs of residents in different geographies including dense cities, suburban areas, rural areas and even remote areas with no access to an electric grid.

Currently we do not have a competitive source of dependable clean heat to displace natural gas, propane or heating oil. However, new SMR technology can provide competitive clean heat energy for base-load heating needs under the proposed carbon price policies recently announced by the federal government. Some SMR designs can also provide higher temperature heat energy needed by industry.

SMRs can be designed to be passively safe – meaning they will shut down without human intervention or external power sources if major equipment failures occur. This effectively eliminates large off-site radioactive releases following major equipment failures. This passive feature has been demonstrated at research facilities in the United States.

Some SMR designs can be fueled from recycled spent fuel from other reactors. These SMRs can reduce the existing nuclear fuel stockpiles by about 100 times less volume and 1000 times shorter storage duration.

To learn more about SMR’s and its great potential, read Getting to Zero- The Role of Small Modular Reactors, prepared by Paul Acchione, P.Eng., OSPE member and subject member expert on OSPE’s Energy Task Force. Additional information can also be found here, Getting To Zero- The Role of Passively, Safe Small Modular Reactors (SMRs). This presentation was prepared for OSPE’s 2021 Engineering Conference: The Future of Engineering.

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