A recent survey by the Canadian Nuclear Association (CNA) found that climate change remains a serious issue on the minds of nearly all Canadians and if Canada is to achieve its climate goals, the majority believe governments should invest in a mix of renewable and nuclear energy production.
Since 2014, USNC-Power has been progressing its plans to deploy Canada’s first SMR – the company’s proprietary Micro Modular Reactor (MMR®). With a joint venture now formed and a project host agreement in place to site a reactor at Chalk River Laboratories in Ontario, USNC-Power expects the country’s first commercial demonstration to be operational in 2026.
SMRs can be a confusing topic to navigate, so USNC-Power has assembled a list of key players in the deployment of its MMR, helpful company background information, an explanation of the technology, as well as details on the organization’s partnership with Ontario Power Generation (OPG).
Partners and Entities
A glossary of companies and organizations critical to making USNC-Power’s MMR a reality in Canada:
Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation® (USNC®): The global parent company of USNC-Power, based in Seattle, Washington.
USNC-Power: USNC’s Canadian operating company and the vendor of the Micro Modular Reactor (MMR) energy system and related services, based in Ottawa, Ontario.
Ontario Power Generation (OPG): A major power utility and nuclear operator owned by the Government of Ontario.
Global First Power (GFP): The joint venture formed by USNC-Power and OPG to develop the MMR Project at Chalk River Laboratories, including project management, environmental assessment, Indigenous and public engagement, licensing activities, construction, commissioning, and operations. The GFP MMR Project is the first and only project to enter into the formal licensing process with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.
Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL): Owner of the Chalk River Laboratories site.
Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL): Manager and operator of Chalk River Laboratories, currently conducting a process to site an SMR on a CNL-managed site. The Global First Power (GFP) MMR project is the only Canadian project in Stage 3 of CNL’s 4-stage process.
Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC): Canada’s federal nuclear regulator, responsible for the regulation of the development, production, and use of nuclear energy in Canada (e.g. licensing) to protect health, safety, and the environment.
Who is USNC?
USNC-Power is a new kind of nuclear energy developer. For off-grid communities and enterprises who don’t have reliable access to clean power, USNC-Power delivers abundant, affordable, clean power through its innovative Micro Modular Reactor (MMR) energy system.
- USNC-Power’s proprietary MMR is a fourth-generation nuclear energy system and is on the smaller end of the SMR category, which includes reactors that can generate enough energy to produce up to 300 MW of electricity. USNC-Power’s MMR generates 15 MW of thermal energy, enough to generate 5 MW of electricity and can be deployed in multiple units to meet end user needs. The reactor runs for 20 years without refueling and provides energy equivalent to 220 million litres of diesel during its lifespan. This type of MMR is ideal for providing clean energy to heavy industry such as mining sites, and remote communities across the country.
- Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation is a global company with a strong Canadian presence. USNC-Power is the wholly-owned Canadian operating unit, based in Ottawa, responsible for the complete fabrication and implementation of its MMR technology.
- Unlike diesel, which is the common choice to meet off-grid baseload needs, USNC-Power’s MMR provides power that is reliable and cost-competitive, but also environmentally responsible and can be deployed in tandem with renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power.
Why should you be paying attention to USNC-Power?
- USNC-Power’s MMR is considerably advanced compared to other SMR developers, with commercialization slated for 2026, about two years or more ahead of any other SMR.
- USNC-Power is one of the most advanced SMR developers in Canada in CSNC’s vendor design review process, and the GFP MMR project is the first and only project to enter into the CNSC’s formal licensing process.
- Their joint venture project is the only one in Stage 3 of CNL’s 4-stage process to site an SMR at the Chalk River Laboratories site.
- USNC-Power is the only SMR developer to be in an active project in partnership with a major nuclear operator, Global First Power (GFP).
The Global First Power MMR Project at Chalk River Laboratories
USNC-Power and OPG formed a joint venture called Global First Power (GFP), to deploy, own and operate USNC-Power’s MMR at Chalk River Laboratories. The Chalk River Laboratories site is owned by AECL and managed by CNL, near Deep River, Ontario - just 30km northwest of Petawawa. This commercial demonstration project will show how USNC-Power’s MMR can be a small footprint, economically competitive alternative to greenhouse gas-emitting diesel power. The Ontario site is where the ﬁrst SMR in Canada – USNC-Power’s MMR – will be licensed, construct-ed and operated, and will serve as a blueprint for future projects across the country and around the world. The facility under design will contain an MMR reactor and an adjacent plant, with an area approximate of about two soccer ﬁelds. The plant will provide 15 MW of process heat, which will be used to generate up to 5 MW of electrical power and possibly provide heat for other applications.
In November 2020, GFP achieved a major milestone by signing a Project Host Agreement with CNL in support of the first SMR demonstration project at Chalk River Laboratories (CRL).
In May 2021, GFP made history by becoming the first and only SMR project in Canada to enter into the formal licensing phase with the CNSC.
MMRs are based on fourth generation nuclear technology, which are considerably smaller, safer, more sustainable, efficient than older systems. The design is based on proven technology with similar designs in service in other parts of the world.
One 5 MW MMR can replace 220 million litres of diesel during its 20-year life span.
No external power or water is required to safely operate or cool the reactor.
MMR plants occupy a small fraction of the area typically used by a traditional nuclear reactor and are small enough to be constructed in modules which can transported by truck. They are faster to build and will be built and tested in a special facility prior to being shipped and assembled on-site.
USNC has created a proprietary, Fully Ceramic Microencapsulated (FCM®) fuel, which even in the event of a cooling failure physically cannot reach temperatures that would result in a meltdown, and therefore makes the MMR inherently safe.
In contrast to older generation technologies, USNC-Power’s system is designed with advanced, passive safety features that are not reliant on a human intervention to shut down the reactor in the unlikely event of a malfunction.
Scalable and Modular
Modules can be combined for different sites or energy needs.
Download Table Top MMR
Learn more about the MMR with Table Top MMR. This interactive augmented reality app will let you explore a few of the components of the MMR energy system from your smart phone.