Nuclear power has the potential to play a role in replacing high-emission sources of
electricity. Traditional nuclear power plants have historically been used to supply a large flow of
electricity to a grid, with the size of these plants necessitating large commitments of capital and
time for the licensing and construction process. Advancements in the nuclear industry have led to
a new generation of reactors, Small Modular Reactors (SMRs), designed to overcome these
limitations. Canadian vendors are developing a number of SMR designs but they are currently
not regulated in Canada. Russia and South Korea are two examples of countries who have
licensed their SMR designs. This report looks at how Canadian regulation can be informed by
the regulation currently employed in these countries.
This report looks at three specific models of light water reactors and finds that these
reactors have technical features that were not previously seen in traditional nuclear reactors.
These features include autonomous operation, particularly in a shut-down scenario (termed
‘passive safety’), and can include the presence of liquid fuel. Any new technical approaches must
be assessed for safety, which can cause issues in regulation.