Patient Capital: Financing Small Modular Nuclear Reactors to Commercialization

The Conference Board of Canada, 21 pages, January 25, 2022
Impact Paper by ,
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Canada’s small modular reactor (SMR) ecosystem suffers from a substantial investment gap. As part of this impact paper, seven strategic actions are recommended to position SMRs for commercialization and allow them to contribute to Canada’s net-zero transition.

Document Highlights

The conclusions in this impact paper were garnered through structured, in-depth interviews with a broad group of stakeholders in early-stage pre-commercial investment, sustainable finance, and nuclear energy.

Findings show that small modular reactors (SMRs) have the potential to improve the performance of nuclear power plants in order to build a net-zero energy system. SMRs could also mitigate the project delivery challenges that have undermined large reactor development in recent years. But hardly any investment in SMRs originates in Canada. It will cost between US$500 million and US$1 billion to reach the stage of first construction for a grid-scale SMR. Vendors in Canada have only raised between $10 million and $50 million in private investment. Thus, the private sector – in particular engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) firms – need to become more involved with SMR vendors and assume greater risk. As well, governments need to create the framework conditions to develop and deploy the technology. In this impact paper, seven strategic actions are recommended to position SMRs for commercialization and allow them to contribute to Canada’s net-zero transition.

Table of Contents

Key Findings
A Net-Zero Opportunity
Mind the Gap: The Challenge of Financing SMRs
Finding an Open Door: Alternative Sources of Capital
Activating Private Capital
Playing the Long Game: State-Driven SMR Commercialization
Going Forward
Appendix A—Methodology
Appendix B—Bibliography

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