President, Westinghouse Electric Canada
Canada’s energy needs extend to many off-grid communities which have traditionally been reliant on transported diesel. The eVinci™ microreactor is their new net-zero solution.
We stand at a crucial crossroads in Canada’s journey towards a truly net-zero energy supply. Great strides have been made in curtailing our use of fossil fuels for on-grid power generation, particularly coal, but a whole host of new generation capacity — both renewable and nuclear — will still need to be brought online to get us across the finish line. And that’s just the grid. What of our remote communities? What of our off-grid and edge-of-grid industrial operations, particularly in the resource sector?
Because Canada is so geographically immense, a great deal of energy is consumed in places far removed from traditional energy grids. Historically, this has meant a heavy reliance on transported diesel. Today, a new high-tech solution is presenting itself, drawing on Canada’s legacy as a global leader in nuclear innovation. Westinghouse Electric Canada is developing a first-of-its-kind nuclear microreactor so self-contained and easy-to-operate that they dub it a nuclear battery. It is called eVinci.
There’s real economic growth potential within communities where the revitalization is very welcome.
“The eVinci™ microreactor is Westinghouse’s answer to the off-grid need for power,” says Eddie Saab, President of Westinghouse Electric Canada. “This is a 5 megawatts electrical — about 13.5 megawatts thermal — nuclear reactor based on technology that was licensed from Los Alamos (National Lab). We started with a 5 MW version because it’s a nice balance between maintaining the transportability we wanted and the output we needed. eVinci can be shipped to a site in four shipping containers and installed on a simple concrete slab. Once operational, it outputs enough electricity to power about 3,000 homes.”
When an eVinci reactor arrives in a community, or at an industrial site, it will come prefueled with enough fissile material to operate for 8 to 10 years. And unlike a traditional reactor, the sodium heat pipe design requires no heavy water or other outside materials. It just works.
A well-marked path to a micronuclear future
The eVinci project is still in development, but the milestones are being reached quickly. The electrical demonstration unit (EDU) passed all benchmarks with flying colours two years ago, and a 1MW scale unit will be tested at the Idaho National Lab in 2025 and 2026.
“The goal is to have the technology commercially available by 2028,” says Saab. “In terms of first applications, the government of Saskatchewan has announced an investment into Saskatchewan Research Council for $80 million to advance eVinci, with an aim towards bringing the technology into Saskatchewan by 2029.”
As exciting as the promise of this technology is for the future of Canadian communities, it’s also providing real benefits to these communities even as development continues. The Westinghouse Canada team represents about 250 high-quality Canadian jobs, including those at Burlington and Peterborough sites with manufacturing and testing capabilities, many of whom will be supporting this technology. There’s real economic growth potential within communities where the revitalization is very welcome.
Achieving a carbon neutral energy supply for Canada will not be easy and it will not happen overnight. Moving forward from this crossroads will require us to walk several paths at once as we invest in both renewables and new nuclear innovation. Fortunately, projects like eVinci are showing us that our destination is indeed reachable, and that the road there can be a rewarding and prosperous one.
Learn more about the eVinci™ microreactor at westinghousenuclear.com.