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World's first micro-modular reactor to be built in Chalk River, Ont.

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CHALK RIVER, ONT. -

Already home to groundbreaking innovation, the site at Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) in Chalk River, Ont. was announced Thursday as the site for the world's first micro-modular reactor.

Developed by Global First Power (GFP), the micro-modular reactor is a nuclear-based power source touted as the future of green energy.

"One of these reactors that can provide power to 5,000 people for 20 years, will have about one metre cubed of radioactive material [waste]," Jos Diening, CEO of Global First Power told CTV News.

Global First Power's goal is to use the smaller reactors to power and connect off grid and out of reach communities, specifically in Canada's north.

"Remote communities up in the north is a really big, potential opportunity for us," Diening says.

"So we would replace diesel generators. One of our plants could replace around 200-million litres of diesel fuel that would otherwise be burned to generate the same electricity."

The micro-modular reactors would be built in 90 different pieces around the size of transport trucks at a location like CNL. Those pieces would then be transported to remote areas where they would be assembled, similar to Lego blocks, creating a reactor roughly the size of a football field.

The first ever micro-modular reactor built in Chalk River will be a demonstration site for communities to come see it in action. For demonstration purposes, it is expected to power the CNL campus.

The micro-modular reactor is expected to be up and running by 2027.

"It's ideal to demonstrate here because this essentially is a remote community," said Amy Gottschling, vice-president of science, technology and commercial at Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., which owns the site at CNL.

"This campus by CNL is a remote community. So if we can do it here, we can do it anywhere."

While the change will not be here tomorrow, nuclear power is seen as the path away from fossil fuels.

"I would say probably in the late 2030s, 2040s you'll be able to see a much more significant impact of nuclear on the climate and for energy security," CNL CEO and president Joe McBrearty said.

McBrearty says the public should not have fears over nuclear power.

"These plants operate safely. They're operated by incredibly skilled operators. They have lasted for decades and operated safely."

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