The Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB) announced Tuesday it's loaning almost a billion dollars to Ontario Power Generation (OPG) to build the country’s first grid-scale, small modular reactor (SMR) in Clarington, Ont.

At a Tuesday morning press conference, CIB CEO Ehren Cory revealed the company will be investing $970 million in OPG so the reactor can be built and fully functional at the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station by 2029. Cory was joined by Ontario Minister of Energy, Todd Smith, and Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson.

It’s the CIB’s largest investment in clean power, and in the first phase of its financed plan, the money will cover everything needed before nuclear construction, from project design to site preparation.

The investment comes in the form of a small interest loan, which the OPG will have to pay back after securing private investors.

“The deployment of one of Canada’s first small modular reactors at Darlington Station will further enhance Canada’s leadership in nuclear technology, create sustainable jobs, and reduce emissions,” Wilkinson said in a news release.

The 300-megawatt reactor is being built next to OPG’s existing 3,500-megawatt Darlington Generation Station.

Accordion to OPG, these kinds of reactors have a smaller ecological footprint and a quicker construction schedule compared to traditional nuclear generation stations.

The zero-carbon energy produced from SMRs is part of OPG’s Climate Change plan that ties into the company’s goals to be a net-zero carbon company by 2040.

Once the SMR is completely built, OPG says it will avoid about 740,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions each year -- roughly the equivalent of gas emissions from 160,000 gas-powered cars.

OPG says the Darlington site is the only Canadian location with an approved Environmental Assessment in place for new nuclear energy, which looks at both the potential negative and positive effects of proposed projects. 

- With files from The Canadian Press