In December, the 28th Conference of the Parties (COP28) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change took place in Dubai. There, 22 countries, including Canada, agreed to triple global nuclear power capacity by 2050 to help reach net zero. This added generation would be in addition to significant renewable generating assets committed by over 110 countries at COP28. 

Canada is at the forefront of developing small modular reactors (SMRs) and advanced SMRs to be part of increasing the world’s nuclear capacity by 2050. As part of Canada’s SMR Action Plan, New Brunswick, Ontario and Saskatchewan have been working side by side since 2019 through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which was also joined by Alberta in April 2021.  

“New Brunswick has a long history as a Canadian leader in the energy sector,” said Natural Resources and Energy Development Minister Mike Holland. There has been a number of recent nuclear-related announcements worthy of being highlighted to demonstrate the region’s commitment to a clean energy transition.  

Source: Sustainability and Environment Network, Triple the Nuclear at COP28 Alliance of 22 Countries:

NB Power is working with two SMR companies, ARC Clean Technology (ARC), and Moltex Energy (Moltex), to construct and operate advanced SMRs at the Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station site.  

ARC is developing the ARC-100 advanced SMR, which is expected to be operational by 2030. On November 28, 2023, ARC announced an MOU with Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Co and NB Power to explore potential collaboration for global SMR fleet deployment. On December 6, 2023, ARC also joined 120 organizations in committing to triple global nuclear energy by 2050. 

Moltex is developing new technology that will recycle used nuclear fuel, reducing the amount stored long-term, which is expected to be operational by the early 2030’s. Moltex conducted successful experiments in October 2023 to derisk its innovative recycling process, and is now initiating further experiments using real spent fuel at the Canadian Nuclear Laboratories.  

At the 2023 World Nuclear Exhibition in Paris, Minister Holland was a panellist in a workshop entitled Nuclear Power Surge: Empowering Canada’s Future, where ARC and NB Power were represented along withOpportunities New Brunswick.

“We have a generational opportunity to use our capabilities, knowledge, resources and location to develop energy and drive decarbonization, both at home and abroad,” said Holland. “Changing the way we use energy to live and work will lead to a cleaner environment, more economic growth and, most importantly, an affordable and secure energy supply for all New Brunswickers. Small modular reactors will be part of that change.”

It is evident that Canada’s nuclear energy plans are being discussed worldwide at important events such as the World Nuclear Exhibition and COP28. Atlantic Canada will play an important role as a leader in the clean-energy transition.

On November 22, 2023, the federal government all-too-quietly announced in its Fall Economic Statement that Canada’s Green Bond Framework will now include certain nuclear generation expenditures. It was done to better align the Framework with “Canada’s 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan, updated taxonomies, international best practices, and evolving investor preferences.”  

The updated Canada Green Bond Framework will be finalized before the end of the fiscal year and will include: 

  • Investments in new nuclear reactors 
  • Refurbishment of existing facilities 
  • Research and development of nuclear projects
  • Some investments in Canada’s nuclear supply chain  

Integrating nuclear energy into Canada’s updated Framework will play a significant role in supporting the 22 countries that committed at COP28 to tripling global nuclear power capacity by 2050.