Canada launches new small modular reactor funding programme

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In another instance of the renewed interest globally in nuclear energy, the Canadian government has launched a new funding programme to support research and development in the country of small modular reactors (SMR) — the next generation of nuclear technologies. 
 
The new programme will provide 29.6 million Canadian dollars ($24 million) over four years to develop supply chains for SMR manufacturing and fuel supply and security to support the crucial elements necessary for Canada’s SMR industry to thrive, according to a statement issued by Natural Resources Canada. 
 
It will also fund research on safe SMR waste management solutions to ensure that SMRs, and the waste they generate, will be safe now and into the future, the statement said. 
 
On February 6, 2023, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada had announced a similar fund programme to support university applicants in their efforts to address waste generated from SMRs and develop SMR supply chains, the statement added. 
 
Last year, through an inter-provincial Memorandum of Understanding, the provincial governments of Ontario, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Alberta put forward a nuclear plan that will transition them toward SMRs with the first 300-megawatt plant to be built in Darlington, Ontario, by 2028. The project would support Canadian efforts to become a global SMR technology hub in a market that is estimated will be worth 150 billion Canadian dollars ($120 billion) per year by 2040. 
 
SMRs, which are nearly 300 megawatts or less, have a smaller footprint and a shorter construction schedule, compared to traditional nuclear generating stations. Energy experts say there is no path to bringing the world’s carbon emissions to zero by 2050 without nuclear power. 

A recent study published by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) says that accelerating a transition away from fossil fuels globally will require putting new low-carbon options on the table, and nuclear energy is without question one of those options. The study concludes that as the developed world reconsiders the value of atomic energy, a reconsideration of its potential to address the global development challenge, as well as the global climate challenge, is long overdue.