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GE Hitachi Collaborates With Five Canadian Firms On SMR Designs

By Christina Haley O'Neal, posted Oct 8, 2020
GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy is joining with other firms in Canada to push its small modular reactor designs in Canada. (Photo courtesy of GE Hitachi)
Wilmington-based GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy has announced another collaboration to get small modular reactors to the point of commercialization.

GE Hitachi will be working with Ontario Power Generation (OPG) to make progress on options for the potential deployment of small modular reactors (SMR) in Ontario, including its BWRX-300 small modular reactor design, according to a news release. 

The collaboration is a major step "in making the Canadian SMR Roadmap a reality," officials said in the release.

GE Hitachi, a global nuclear alliance created by GE and Hitachi, is a provider of advanced reactors and nuclear services.

The firm has been working with several regulatory agencies and businesses, including those in the U.S. and European markets, to get to the commercial market its SMR design, which is being marketed as a cost-competitive alternative to other SMR designs and large nuclear reactor designs.

A lot of the engineering work for GE Hitachi's BWRX-300 model -- a 300-megawatt electric water-cooled, natural circulation SMR with passive safety systems -- has taken place at the Wilmington headquarters site.

“Our design-to-cost approach ideally positions the BWRX-300 to help OPG consider options for future deployment of affordable, clean and reliable energy,” Jay Wileman, president and CEO of GE Hitachi, said in the release. “We are excited about working with OPG and Canadian suppliers to fulfill our vision to construct and operate a BWRX-300. We also believe this technology can serve other provinces that are looking to nuclear energy to help Canada meet its decarbonization goals.”

For the work with OPG, GE Hitachi will "provide detailed information on the design process, licensing, scheduling and contracting that will help inform OPG on options for siting an SMR in Ontario," stated the release.

OPG is an electricity generator in Canada that provides more than half of the power in Ontario. It has experience in nuclear, hydroelectric, biomass, solar and natural gas technologies, stated the release.

GE Hitachi officials said the firm intends to develop a supply chain of Canadian companies to support the SMR project, officials said. The firm has entered into an agreement with five Canadian companies: Aecon Nuclear, BWXT Canada Ltd., Hatch Ltd., Black & Veatch and Overland Contracting Canada Inc. (a Black & Veatch Company).

The five companies form the foundation "for the establishment of a Canadian supply chain to support potential BWRX-300 construction and provide future services and components," stated the release.

All five companies have extensive nuclear industry experience, officials said in the release. Through the agreement, however, GE Hitachi will cooperate with the firms in the areas of construction, engineering, modularization and manufacture of safety-related components.

“OPG is leveraging more than 50 years of nuclear experience to support the development of carbon-free nuclear technology,” said Ken Hartwick, OPG president and CEO. “SMRs will play a key role in helping to re-invigorate Ontario’s economy and further support the province and Canada as they work toward meeting their climate change targets of zero-emission electricity.” 

In 2018, OPG and other nuclear industry members participated in the development of “A Call to Action: A Canadian Roadmap for Small Modular Reactors." And in April 2020, GE Hitachi conducted a webinar for Canadian suppliers interested in providing material, equipment and services in support of the possible BWRX-300 construction in Canada, stated the release.

GE Hitachi is "planning to conduct supplier forums in the coming months and is committed to working with Canadian organizations and stakeholders to involve Indigenous companies in its supply chain strategy," officials said. 

The firm is making progress in advancing its BWRX-300 technology in Canada, officials said. 

GE Hitachi last month made additional submittals to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) for the Vendor Design Review (VDR) of the BWRX-300. Officials announced the start of that process with the CNSC in February.

"The submittals related to eight focus areas including core design, nuclear fuel, emergency core cooling, deterministic safety analyses and probabilistic safety analyses," stated the release. "GEH made its first VDR submittals to the CNSC early this year and has now provided information related to 16 of the 19 focus areas."

“GE applauds the bold leadership and commitment of the Canadian government and the provinces who have been strong advocates for nuclear power,” said Heather Chalmers, president and CEO of GE Canada, in the release. “GE has operated in Canada for 128 years and we are honored to be a part of this effort. Our cutting-edge innovation and global expertise will support economic development efforts in Canada, while also helping to reduce carbon emissions.”
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