The New Brunswick government has strengthened its commitment to the development of small modular reactors by announcing a $20 million investment in ARC Clean Energy Canada Inc., which is developing the ARC-100 advanced SMR.

Premier Blaine Higgs made the announcement during the recent state of the province address, highlighting the importance of the developing SMR technology to the provincial economy and its potential to “unlock significant private-sector investment.”

“We are convinced that, through this investment, not only will we support the development of local expertise, we will also contribute to creating a critical mass to attract the best talent, which will enable other companies to grow,” Premier Higgs said.

ARC is one of two companies with operations in Saint John hoping to develop and market the promising SMR technology. The $20 million for ARC is the first public funding since the previous Liberal government in New Brunswick gave it and Moltex Energy $5 million each in 2018.

Higgs didn’t mention any new money for Moltex Energy but said he expects the federal government to announce funding to support its work. The federal government recently announced an action plan for developing SMRs which have the potential to cut emissions and stimulate economic growth.

Among steps in the plan is developing prototypes and demonstration models.

Small modular reactors would be smaller in size and energy output than traditional nuclear power units, and more flexible in their deployment. While conventional reactors produce around 800 megawatts of power, SMRs would deliver up to 300 megawatts.

Donald Wolf, chairman of ARC, said the $20 million provided by the province is conditional on matching funding.

“ARC Canada intends to obtain the required $30 million of matching funds from private investors,” Wolf said in a news release.

“This funding milestone will play an integral role in the deployment of our proven, inherently safe clean energy technology in the late 2020’s. We believe New Brunswick possesses all the key pillars for success, including an experienced operator, a flexible workforce, the foundations of a future supply chain and an ideal academia to support development and innovation.”

In 2019, New Brunswick joined Ontario and Saskatchewan in a Memorandum of Understanding to advance the development and deployment of SMRs. Last year, ARC, New Brunswick Power and Moltex Energy agreed to set up a SMR vendor cluster in the province.