Study shows vSMRs could reduce emissions by 85 per cent or more
Chalk River – Very small modular reactors (vSMRs) could provide clean, economic and reliable power and heat to remote northern mines and surrounding communities, reducing or eliminating reliance on diesel, according to a recent study completed by Ontario Power Generation (OPG), Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL), and Mining Innovation, Rehabilitation, and Applied Research Corporation (MIRARCO).
The feasibility study found that the most economical energy mix was for vSMRs to provide 90 per cent of the baseload power required for mining operations and associated uses, with only peak demand periods managed through use of diesel generation, reducing emissions by 85 per cent. Emissions could be lowered further by adding other renewables to the mix, decreasing the diesel component, at a slightly increased cost.
Advantages of a vSMR, producing less than 10 megawatts of power, include:
- Their small size, making them easier to transport and install in remote communities, and scalable to meet changing needs;
- Their ability to safely, reliably produce power;
- Long operating life without the need for an onsite inventory of fuel; and,
- Short installation period due to their modular construction and factory fabrication.
Global First Power, a joint venture between OPG and USNC-Power, is the most advanced vSMR project in Canada. The project recently received Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) approval to begin a technical review. Subject to federal government financial support, the next step in the process is to construct a demonstration vSMR at CNL’s Chalk River campus.
This demonstration project will serve as a model for future SMR deployments as called for in Canada’s SMR Roadmap and Action Plan, by producing competitively-priced clean energy ideally sized for remote communities and heavy industry such as mining and resource projects.
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