Nuclear expertise in Clarington, from fusion to SMRs, showcased at Darlington this month

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Published June 18, 2024 at 11:49 am

ITER fusion assembly hall in France
One of ITER’s nine toroidal plasma chambers arriving in the assembly hall in France in 2020

Darlington Nuclear and Ontario Power Generation (OPG) have been the source of a series of good news announcement this spring, from the completion of site preparation for the first small modular reactors in the G7 to the announcement that Darlington is in the running to host a centre of excellence for fusion energy.

It’s been a good couple of months for his municipality, agreed Clarington Mayor Adrian Foster.

“I congratulate Ontario Power Generation and its partners on their remarkable work completing the first phase of site preparation for Ontario’s first small modular reactor,” Foster said. “This will bring a wealth of opportunities and benefits to our municipality and our province as we pursue a sustainable and cost-effective energy solution for the future. I look forward to seeing the continued success of this project and the technological innovation and economic development that will result from it.”

The fusion news – OPG and Princeton University fusion spinout Stellarex were in France last week to sign up to establish a fusion energy centre of excellence in Ontario – as well as the announcement that OPG subsidiary Laurentis Energy will be among the companies contracted to refurbish a CANDU-powered nuclear plant in Romania, also caught Foster’s attention.

“The new agreements the Ontario government signed in Romania and France are a testament to the strong international reputation of our nuclear industry. As Clarington has long been considered a preferred site for fusion technology in Canada, we are excited about the work underway to explore opportunities for the development and deployment of fusion energy in Ontario.”

Clarington and Darlington were in the running in 2003 to host an International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, a contract that was eventually awarded to France.

It’s far from a done deal the fusion energy centre would be located at Darlington – OPG and Stellarex will work to identify the best potential site – but the expertise is already here and Stellarex has established supply-chain and ‘fusion ecosystem’ relationships at Ontario Tech University in Oshawa and with the University of Toronto, Queen’s and McMaster, as well as Canadian Nuclear Laboratories in Chalk River, Hatch, and Kinectrics.

Stellarex’s Chair is a Waterloo University grad so that high-tech area could also be in the running.

The project, if it is awarded locally, would have an immediate impact in Durham Region, with Ontario Tech and a host of local companies already itching to pay a big role providing the supply chain of big brains and skilled workers needed to make the enterprise work.

As far as the small modular reactors, site work on the four SMRs to be built at Darlington received the green light from regulators in May, with a license to construct expected in the fall. The four reactors would produce a total of 1,200 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 1.2 million homes.

Darlington’s own $12.8 billion refurbishment of its full-scale nuclear reactors is also on time and on budget and expected to be completed by 2026.

“In Clarington, we always welcome an opportunity to showcase our world-class expertise and innovation in the nuclear sector. The advances made here will position our community to supply highly skilled workers, products, services and expertise to a global market. Amid a global nuclear renaissance, Clarington finds itself a proud hub for the sector.”

Ontario Energy Minister Stephen Lecce was in Clarington to announce the completion of the first phase of site preparation for Ontario’s first small modular reactors and successful trade missions to Romania and France.

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