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Enabling Small Modular Reactors Program

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Status: Application period closed on April 21, 2023.

About the program

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).

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”.

Program objectives

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.

Funding

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.

Projects announced to date

Project title: Standards for Enabling Small Modular Reactors: Research, Development of Standards Content, and Awareness and Education

Organization: Canadian Standards Association

Funding amount: $925,000

The Canadian Standards Association (CSA) will receive a total of $925,000 over three years from Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) for its project to inform and accelerate the development of standards related to small modular reactors. This CSA project aims to identify the gaps and applicability of existing standards to the SMR supply chain, managing radioactive waste of SMRs and advanced manufacturing for SMR applications, and benchmarking to international requirements.

Eligibility

Eligible applicants

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

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.

Application considerations

  • 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

Presentation

The video below is a recorded presentation to share information about the Program scope, eligibility and its application process.

Transcript

Enabling SMRs Program – Info Session

Script (~5 min)

Slide 1

Enabling Small Modular Reactors Program

Slide 2

As Canada advances toward a low-carbon economy, many forms of clean energy are needed to power the growing demand for clean, affordable, and reliable electricity.

The Government of Canada is supporting Small Modular Reactors to help achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions.

This program helps to support the conditions and enabling frameworks for SMRs to displace fossil fuels and contribute to climate change mitigation.

Slide 3

The program is intended to support research and studies in the following areas: waste management for SMRs and supporting the creation of SMR supply chains.

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.

The program will 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.

Slide 4

In their proposals, applicants are asked to consider the following questions:

How does the project address a barrier, gap, or need related to SMR waste or SMR supply chains?

How does the project contribute towards SMR deployment plans and objectives?

Projects must exclude reactor development and demonstration, including commercial installation.

Slide 5

Eligible applicants include: for-profit and not-for-profit organizations, governments, and Indigenous organizations and groups, including Indigenous-controlled for-profit or non-profit organizations.

Slide 6

Program funding can support up to 75% of total projects costs.

While the maximum funding is $5M per project, the anticipated funding per project is between $500K and $2,500,000 depending on project size, scope, timeline and leveraged funding.

Projects led by Indigenous applicants are eligible for funding support up to 100% of total project costs.

Slide 7

The Application Process will be conducted in 2 phases.

The Expression of Interest (EOI) phase is the first step in the application process. NRCan will review the EOI proposals and will invite a limited number of organizations to expand their EOI proposals into full proposals for assessment and possible funding.

NRCan will invite organizations based on: 1) the alignment of the EOI proposals with the program objectives; 2) the comprehensive package of proposals received as a whole, and; 3) available funding within NRCan.

All applicants will be advised of the results of the EOI process. Applicants who are invited to the full project proposal phase will be notified by NRCan and will receive information on the timelines and submission requirements. The same Applicant Guide applies for the EOI phase and the full project proposal phase.

Slide 8

Questions can be sent to the program mailbox: smr-prm@nrcan-rncan.gc.ca

Slide 9

Thank you

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