Enabling Small Modular Reactors Program
Status: Application period closed
About the program
In our ever-changing climate, Canadians need to look to all forms of clean energy in order to meet our net-zero goals. The Government of Canada recognizes the need for clean, reliable and affordable electricity to meet climate objectives and grow the use of electricity to support competitiveness and economic prosperity in all regions of the country. To bring clean power to more Canadians, the Government of Canada has committed to working with the provinces and territories to enable deployment of small modular reactors (SMR).
In 2018, Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) brought together provincial and territorial governments, industry, utilities, and other interested stakeholders for a 10-month, pan-Canadian discussion on Canada’s SMR opportunity, which was published as the SMR Roadmap. To help achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions and broaden Canada’s nuclear energy industry, in 2020, NRCan released Canada’s SMR Action Plan on ongoing and future efforts regarding SMR science and technology, and the role of SMRs in clean electrification.
The Government of Canada demonstrated its continued support for SMRs in Budget 2022, stating “Support to develop this technology can position Canada as a clean energy leader; support the decarbonization of provincial electricity grids in places like New Brunswick and Saskatchewan; facilitate the transition away from diesel power in remote communities; and help decarbonize heavy emitting industries”.
NRCan is seeking to fund research and development (R&D) to support provinces and territories as they work to develop and deploy SMRs as part of their respective decarbonisation and economic development plans.
The Enabling Small Modular Reactors Program (the “Program”) seeks to support applicants in their efforts to:
- address waste generated from SMRs
- develop supply chains for SMR manufacturing and SMR fuel supply
The Program aims to support the conditions and enabling frameworks necessary for SMRs to displace fossil fuels and contribute to climate change mitigation while enhancing gender-equality, diversity and inclusion in the nuclear sector.
The Program is open to R&D projects that request up to $5,000,000 (where the Program can provide up to 75% of the total project costs). It is anticipated that the Program’s average funding for a project will be between $500,000 and $2,500,000 with variation based on the size, scope, timeline and leveraged funding. Program funding is available for projects until March 31, 2027. The Program provides non-repayable contributions.
Projects led by Indigenous applicants are eligible for funding support up to 100% of the total project costs. Indigenous applicants are defined as 51% Indigenous ownership or more.
Applicants must be a legal entity registered or incorporated in Canada. This includes:
- For-profit and not-for-profit organizations: Utilities, industry associations, research associations, companies, standards organizations, Canadian academic institutions
- Governments: Provincial, territorial, regional and municipal governments, their departments and agencies
- Indigenous organizations and groups: including Indigenous-controlled for-profit or non-profit organizations
Eligible projects must address one or both of the following subject areas:
Radioactive waste management for SMRs
The Program will advance knowledge and understanding in management, characterization and minimization of SMR waste as part of the enabling frameworks for the deployment of SMRs. Projects may include, but are not limited to:
Examples of project concepts:
- identifying and characterizing waste streams for SMRs (e.g. chemical characterization, physical characterization, engineering, volume)
- researching SMR waste management solutions, including interim storage and techniques/technologies that have the potential to reduce waste (volume and/or activity level)
- advancing the understanding of safeguards and proliferation-resistance of SMR fuel cycles
- developing strategies for intermediate level waste reduction and disposal solutions
- advancing the understanding of the long-term safety requirements for SMR waste storage and disposal
- exploring packaging/transportation requirements for radioactive SMR material
- researching and developing techniques/technologies for managing non-fuel SMR radioactive waste and contaminated materials, such as graphite and metals
Support the creation of SMR supply chains
The Program will help support the development of supply chains for SMR manufacturing and SMR fuel supply, to seek anchoring of elements of the SMR supply chain in Canada and advance SMR fuel supply and security, to secure long-term economic activity in Canada and secure supply chains against risks. Building capacity to support supply chains includes mentoring new players, especially for the purpose of enhancing gender-equality, diversity and inclusion in the nuclear sector.
Examples of project concepts:
- determining the types of equipment and components required to facilitate supply chain development
- identifying and developing innovative techniques for SMR construction, such as innovative manufacturing techniques to reduce SMR costs
- identifying and developing advanced manufacturing techniques/technologies where a Canadian regulatory process for approval and qualification is required
- performing economic impact and gap analysis on nuclear and non-nuclear supply chains related to domestic SMR deployment, including fleet deployment for electric and non-electric applications
- developing characterization and examination capabilities for SMR fuels and fuel materials
- studying the economic impact and understanding policies related to fuel fabrication and/or enrichment in Canada
- exploring fuel processing options for SMR technologies relevant to Canada
- studying the regulatory process for licensing/certification of packaging/transporting enriched materials
- becoming a nuclear qualified supplier
The nature and type of activities that are considered eligible include:
- research, development, and related scientific activities
- engineering, technical and reliability assessments, feasibility studies
- environmental and regulatory studies
Projects can include activities such as capacity building and training, knowledge transfer activities, and standards development activities, if these activities clearly support the program and project objectives.
- Projects should exclude reactor research, development and demonstration, including commercial installation
- Projects that result in broad benefits for Canada will have greater priority than those where the results have narrow impacts
- Applicants are encouraged to seek input from end-users (e.g. Province/Territory and/or utility) to ensure the project contributes towards SMR deployment plans and objectives
- Applicants will be asked to describe in their Project Application the participation, engagement, and/or leadership of women and other identity groups
How to apply
Please request an application package by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Applications must be received by April 21, 2023 at 23:59 EST.
The video below is a recorded presentation to share information about the Program scope, eligibility and its application process.
- NSERC and NRCan partner to fund research on small modular reactors (2023)
- Small Modular Reactor Road Map (2018)
- Small Modular Reactor Action Plan (2020)
- Budget 2022 - A Plan to Grow Our Economy and Make Life More Affordable 2022
- Small modular reactor feasibility report – Prepared for Ontario, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan (2021)
- A strategic plan for the deployment of small modular reactors - Prepared by the Governments of Ontario, New Brunswick, Saskatchewan and Alberta (2022)
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