Cameco Corporation, GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) and Global Nuclear Fuel-Americas (GNF-A) have announced a Memorandum of Understanding to explore potential collaboration to advance the commercialisation and deployment of BWRX-300 small modular reactors in Canada and around the world.
BWRX-300 The BWRX-300 is a 300 MWe water-cooled, natural circulation SMR with passive safety systems that leverages the design and licensing basis of GEH's ESBWR boiling water reactor, which has been certified by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. It is currently undergoing a Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission pre-licensing Vendor Design Review, or VDR.
GEH CEO and President Jay Wileman said: "As we work to bring the world's first grid-scale SMR to Canada we will continue to identify strategic partners whose capabilities will support the deployment of this game-changing technology in Canada and worldwide."
Cameco, which supplies uranium, uranium refining and conversion services worldwide and is a leading manufacturer of fuel assemblies and reactor components for CANDU reactors, intends to be a "go-to" fuel supplier for BWRX-300 reactors, said its president and CEO, Tim Gitzel. "We're looking forward to working with GEH and GNF to see what opportunities might exist around their novel SMR design," he said.
"BWR and CANDU fuel types are closely related as both use similar cladding materials as well as ceramic, uranium dioxide fuel pellets, so this type of collaboration offers the potential to extract significant synergies between the two fuel designs and manufacturing processes, enabling the expansion of Canada's local fuel supply chain capabilities," Lisa McBride, GEH's country leader for SMRs, said.
Ontario Power Generation (OPG) last year announced plans to site an SMR at its Darlington site as soon as 2028. GEH in February announced the formation of GEH SMR Technologies Canada, Ltd to support the deployment of the BWRX-300. It has also said that, should BWRX-300 be selected for deployment at Darlington, it will bring the reactor to commercial readiness in partnership with OPG, and that it would be manufactured and constructed in Ontario.
An independent report by PwC Canada, commissioned by GEH and published in June, estimated that the construction of the first BWRX-300 in Ontario would generate about CAD2.3 billion (USD1.9 billion) in GDP, CAD1.9 billion in labour income and more than CAD750 million in federal, provincial and municipal tax revenue.
GEH has also signed separate agreements with Estonian company Fermi Energia and Synthos SA in Poland to examine the economic feasibility of constructing a single BWRX-300 reactor in those countries.
The latest MoU is not exclusive and does not preclude GEH or Cameco from pursuing similar arrangements with other companies in the nuclear energy sector.
Global Nuclear Fuel-Americas is part of boiling water reactor fuel supplier Global Nuclear Fuel, a GE-led joint venture with Hitachi, Ltd.