Montreal-based engineer SNC-Lavalin and Toronto contractor Aecon will manage design and construction of what could be the first small nuclear reactor at utility scale in North America. 

The team was selected late last month to develop GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy’s BWRX-300 SMR technology at the Darlington nuclear power site in Ontario. Owner Ontario Power Generation said it and the three companies “will provide a diverse range of expertise and services as part of an integrated project delivery model” to build the 300-MW facility by 2028.

The small reactor will be constructed under a single collaborative agreement meant to avoid potential delays and cost overruns, Ken Hartwick, Ontario Power president and CEO, said Jan. 27. Project cost was not disclosed but the Canada Infrastructure Bank agreed last year to provide $717 million to prepare for construction. 

The utility, which in 2021 chose the GE Hitachi advanced boiling water reactor design, expects to receive a construction license from Canada regulators in 2024, with power delivery set to start in 2029. The site has a completed environmental assessment. 

SNC-Lavalin will provide licensing, engineering, construction support and commissioning, it said. Aecon will manage all construction services. “Nuclear power and SMRs are integral to Aecon’s growth strategy in Canada, the U.S. and internationally,” said Jean-Louis Servranckx, the contractor’s CEO. 

The modular facility, Ontario’s first new reactor since 1993, is located at the site of the 3.5-GW Darlington nuclear power plant. SNC-Lavalin and Aecon are more than halfway through its 10-year upgrade, with the project on time and on budget, according to Ontario Power. 

Other provinces also are eyeing SMR deployment, including Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Alberta. Utility SaskPower selected the BWRX-300 design last year for possible deployment in the mid-2030s.

Ontario Power said the Darlington project will “support Canadian efforts to become a global SMR technology hub.” The utility also is coordinating with the Tennessee Valley Authority to boost small reactor deployment. TVA signed an agreement last year with GE Hitachi to begin project development and licensing.