Recent industry news

Group of Bruce Power employees in turbine hall

News and highlights from across the Canadian nuclear industry.

MARCH 12, 2021

An experienced leader takes the helm at AECL

On Feb. 7, Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) announced the appointment of new president and CEO, Fred Dermarkar.

 Dermarkar joined AECL following close to seven years as the president and CEO of the CANDU Owners Group (COG). Prior to that, he held a variety of technical and executive positions at Ontario Power Generation (OPG), and has 40 years of experience in the Canadian nuclear industry.

“As countries around the world consider the importance of nuclear energy as part of a clean energy mix, AECL has an important role to play in seeing that Canada remains at the forefront of nuclear innovation. I am excited to contribute to AECL’s success in that area and to advance AECL’s environmental remediation mandate”, says Dermarkar.

Dermarkar took over from Richard Sexton, who retired in February from AECL, after 38 years in the nuclear industry.

Click here to read the full announcement from AECL.

SMR development continues across Canada

The Canadian nuclear sector, including the federal and some provincial governments, Canada’s national nuclear science innovation institute, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, utilities, supply chain and academia have all been active participants in this country’s design, development and deployment efforts for small modular reactors.

After announcing it would work with three SMR vendors to further develop the technologies for possible deployment in late 2020, Ontario Power Generation (OPG) then announced it had resumed planning activities for future nuclear power generation at its Darlington site, to host an SMR.

“A new SMR development on this site as early as 2028 would benefit all Ontarians while further cementing Durham Region and Ontario as the clean energy capital of the world,” said OPG President and CEO Ken Hartwick, at the time.

The three vendors named by OPG were GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, Terrestrial Energy and X-energy. All three vendors have been actively working with the company, advancing their designs in the regulatory process and working with Canadian communities and stakeholders in building awareness for their designs and capabilities in meeting clean energy needs.

Recent news about the three companies has included:

GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) is also participating in the CNSC’s VDR process (Phases 1 and 2) and in February submitted documentation to the regulator for its BWRX-300 SMR. Earlier in the month, GEH named Lisa McBride as country leader for its newly formed Canadian SMR business, GEH SMR Technologies Canada.

In October 2020, Terrestrial Energy received $20 million in funding, from the Government of Canada, to complete a key pre-licensing milestone through the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) to assess the acceptability of the Generation IV SMR technology Terrestrial is developing as part of its $68.9 million Integral Molten Salt Reactor project, which will provide affordable clean energy for utilities and industry. As part of the investment, the company has committed to creating and maintaining 186 jobs and creating 52 co-op positions, nationally.

X-energy delivered its second information package to the CNSC as part of the regulator’s Pre-Licensing Vendor Design Review (VDR) in early 2021. This is another significant milestone toward demonstrating its Xe-100 SMR design’s compliance with regulatory requirements in Canada. In January, X-energy announced the appointment of Katherine Moshonas Cole as president of XE-100 Canada. Moshonas Cole joined the company as Canada Country Manager in 2019.

Micro Reactors

In micro reactor development, Bruce Power and Westinghouse Electric Company announced an agreement to pursue applications of Westinghouse’s leading eVinci micro reactor program within Canada, to provide a reliable source of carbon-free energy.

In fall 2020, CNL and Global First Power (GFP) announced the signing of a Project Host Agreement to site a proposed Micro Modular Reactor (MMR) at CNL’s Chalk River Laboratories. GFP is a joint venture partnership owned by OPG and USNC Power, the Canadian operating arm of Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation (USNC).

New Brunswick SMR Research Program

The New Brunswick government’s SMR development research program has also remained active. In February 2021, the government announced a $20 million investment in ARC Clean Energy Canada Inc., which is developing the ARC-100 advanced SMR. 

The University of New Brunswick’s Centre for Nuclear Energy Research (CNER) is partnered with ARC to work on the advancement of its ARC-100 technology. As well, Moltex Energy and CNER have partnered in the province’s nuclear research cluster to work on research and development of SMRs. 

Moltex is also partnered with Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) on SMR fuel research funded through CNL’s Canadian Nuclear Research Initiative (CNRI), which focuses on accelerating the deployment of SMRs in Canada by enabling research and development, and connecting the SMR industry with CNL’s facilities and expertise.

OPG opens Centre for Canadian Nuclear Sustainability

In October 2020, Ontario Power Generation (OPG) celebrated the official opening of its Centre for Canadian Nuclear Sustainability (CCNS) located in the province’s Durham Region and in March 2021, announced a funding partnership with Ontario Tech University, as part of OPG’s on-going partnership with the university.

Since its launch, CCNS has already announced several other industry catalysts and community partners including McMaster University, University of Waterloo, Women in Nuclear Canada, North American Young Generation in Nuclear and several nuclear industry suppliers, among others.

The Centre’s vision is to make Canada a world leader in nuclear decommissioning by advancing innovative solutions and using cross collaboration between organizations to launch projects and research and development opportunities. 

UNENE, along with, Ontario Tech University, Durham College, Organization of Canadian Nuclear Industries, CANDU Owners Group, Kinectrics, Energy Solutions and SNC-Lavalin, are all founding partners in CCNS.  

Click here to view the full announcement. 

Bruce Power celebrates one-year milestone on MCR

In February, Bruce Power celebrated its first year of the execution phase of its Major Component Replacement (MCR) project with a virtual event and the release of its Ontario Energy Report for 2020.

The virtual event recognized the contributions of Bruce Power employees, contractors, suppliers and more than 1,000 tradespeople in keeping the MCR project on track.

Click here to view the full announcement.

Click here to read its 2020 Ontario Energy Report.

OPG and Bruce Power in partnership with McMaster University continue medical isotope leadership

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) and Bruce Power, together, produce approximately 50 per cent of the world’s most widely used medical isotope, Cobalt-60. It is used, worldwide, for everything from sterilizing medical devices to battling cancer and for radiation therapy for the treatment of complex brain conditions.

In October 2020, OPG announced it had completed a harvest of Cobalt-60 to support the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. OPG’s Pickering Nuclear has supplied Cobalt-60 since 1971 and was the first Ontario generating station to produce the isotope. In 2019, OPG announced it would move Cobalt-60 production to Darlington once Pickering ceased operations in 2025.

Both organizations continue to make strides in harvesting other varieties of medical isotopes with the support of industry and academic partners.

OPG’s subsidiary, Laurentis Energy Partners, in partnership with BWXT ITG Canada, in fall 2020, announced they were “making significant progress,” toward the production of molybdenum-99 (Mo-99) at Darlington Nuclear. Mo-99 is a much-needed medical isotope used in over 40 million procedures a year to detect cancers and diagnose various medical conditions. This work will enable Darlington to become the first large scale nuclear station to produce Mo-99.

In summer 2020, McMaster University and Bruce Power signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on medical isotope research and production. Together, they are exploring ways to advance development of Lutetium-177, among other areas of cooperation.

Production of Lutetium-177 at Bruce Power is expected to start in 2022, following regulatory and other approvals. Lutetium-177 is produced by irradiating Ytterbium-176 and is used in targeted radionuclide therapy to treat neuroendocrine tumours and prostate cancer. Lutetium produced in nuclear reactors is used to destroy cancer cells while leaving healthy cells unaffected.

Bruce Power is advancing a project which will see its units outfitted with an Isotope Production System that can support future production of isotopes including Lutetium-177.

After 1,106 days of continuous operation, OPG’s Darlington Unit 1 rests

Ontario Power Generation’s (OPG) Darlington Unit 1 reactor was taken offline, Feb. 5, for its final planned inspection and maintenance outage prior to its refurbishment in 2022. Up until then, it had been continuously running since January 2018.

Last September, Unit 1 set a new world record for continuous operation of a nuclear power reactor at 963 days.

Refurbishment update

Darlington’s Unit 2 completed its full refurbishment and returned to service in June 2020 and since then, work on Unit 3’s refurbishment has continued with the safe and successful defueling of the unit and bulkheads installed to separate it from the other running reactors at Darlington.

Click here to read the full story on Darlington Unit 1’s record run.

Nuclear Innovation Institute releases report exploring hydrogen opportunities

On Feb. 1, Nuclear Innovation Institute (NII) released a report titled Seizing Ontario’s opportunity to spark a national hydrogen economy, which urges policymakers to encourage growth and investment and support companies, infrastructure and talent around hydrogen energy.

The report, prepared by the NII’s Bruce Power Centre for Next Generation Nuclear found that Ontario has a distinct advantage in developing hydrogen power because the province’s clean electricity grid – 60 per cent of which comes from nuclear power – can produce an affordable, dependable supply of hydrogen.

The report follows the release of Canada’s hydrogen strategy in December 2020, which sets the goal for the country to be a global leader in clean hydrogen production.

Click here to read the full NII report.