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Research funding for Small Modular Reactors announced

April 9, 2018  

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Bruce Power, MIRARCO Mining Innovation and Laurentian University have signed a Memorandum of Understanding that will enhance strategic research opportunities, including the long-term potential for Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) to generate clean, low-cost and reliable electricity in rural/remote regions.

The five-year, $1 million research agreement will create an Industrial Chair position at MIRARCO Mining Innovation, which will further highlight opportunities in sustainable and clean energy solutions in Ontario’s north, bringing an enhanced perspective to the university’s current research.

MIRARCO Mining Innovations is currently working with Laurentian on sustainable energy solutions in mining and remote communities.

“The chair position will allow MIRARCO to further explore the use of Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) application to remote mining operations”, said Vic Pakalnis, P.Eng., President/CEO MIRARCO Mining Innovation and the Associate Vice-President of Laurentian Mining Innovation and Technology. “By welcoming Bruce Power into the fold, it will support increased research mining safety and align further research with Laurentian Mining Innovation and Technology, allowing for dedicated time to foster research excellence. Northern Ontario will benefit from this strategic investment by the capacity to recruit a chair of high calibre, who is internationally renowned in the field of sustainable energy solutions.”


Mike Rencheck, Bruce Power’s President and CEO, said the company has great interest in the developing field of SMRs and is participating in the Natural Resources Canada efforts to create an ‘SMR roadmap’ for deployment of new, long-term, clean energy supply options. These clean, low-cost, innovative nuclear technologies could play a role in safely powering the most remote northern communities that don’t have adequate electrical grid infrastructure, he added.

“Right now, some of the most remote northern communities are serviced by diesel generators and other unsustainable methods that could be replaced by Small Modular Reactors, or other low-carbon energy sources,” Rencheck said. “Bruce Power wants to be at the forefront of nuclear power’s future, and, by joining forces with the sustainable energy research community, we can help to guide and focus their efforts as SMRs become a viable option for these communities.” 

This collaboration is a continuation of the work Bruce Power has already been doing in the area, when it committed $5 million in funding in 2016 to the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) to conduct health research, specifically in relation to radiation and the environment, Rencheck added.

Glenn Thibeault, Minister of Energy and MPP for Sudbury, said this is a tremendous opportunity for MIRARCO Mining Innovation, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary on April 6.

Ontario has been and continues to be a leader when it comes to clean and sustainable energy,” said the Minister of Energy and MPP for Sudbury. “Investing in research for sustainable and low-carbon energy sources right here in Sudbury, is a key part of our commitment to securing a clean energy future in remote Northern Ontario communities.”

Marc Serre, MP for Nickel Belt, said he appreciates Bruce Power’s continued investment in research in northern Ontario.

“Bruce Power provides 30 per cent of Ontario’s electricity while generating zero carbon emissions,” said MP Serre. “Unfortunately, some of our most remote northern communities do not have the electricity grid infrastructure to take advantage of low-carbon energy, and instead rely on diesel to power their lives. By advancing research and investing in Ontario’s north, we can continue to decarbonize Ontario’s electricity system.”

Paul Lefebvre, Member of Parliament for Sudbury, said this collaboration will benefit the people and economy of Northern Ontario.

“This cooperation agreement is an important step for Northern Ontario as we work together to tackle the challenges of climate change and take a leadership role in the low-carbon economy,” said MP Lefebvre. “It will help ensure our industries remain at the forefront of innovation and sustainability.”

(Bruce Power)