The federal Canadian government has allocated US$15.11 million (C$20 million) for investments in mini nuclear power plants as part of efforts to reduce the country's carbon footprint.
The money will be provided to an Ontario-based company, Terrestrial Energy, to develop the modular reactors and bring them to market, CBC reported.
"By helping to bring these small reactors to market, we are supporting significant environmental and economic benefits, including generating energy with reduced emissions, highly skilled job creation and Canadian intellectual property development," Canada's innovation minister said, as quotes by the news outlet.
According to Atomic Energy Canada, the mini reactors, which are small enough that they can be built in one place and then transported and assembled at another, will be useful in three main areas. One of these is as a replacement for coal-powered generation capacity due to be retired. Another use is to supply power to off-grid projects in industries such as mining and oil sands extraction. The third use of the reactors would serve as replacements for diesel fuel as a source of electricity and heating for remote Canadian communities.
Terrestrial Energy has designed what it calls an Integral Molten Salt Reactor, which, according to the company, "will provide high-efficiency on-grid electricity generation, and its high-temperature operation has many other industry uses, such as zero-carbon hydrogen production."
Canada is the second-largest producer of uranium in the world, according to the Canadian government, and the fourth-largest exporter of the commodity. Nuclear energy accounted for 15 percent of the country's electricity production in 2018.
The money granted to Terrestrial Energy is the first government investment in small modular reactors and comes ahead of the announcement of a roadmap, to be released by the Natural Resources Ministry, that shows how the technology could help Canada reduce its carbon footprint. The country has pledged to reduce its emission levels by a third over the next 10 years.