Saskatchewan and other provinces release small nuclear reactor study

The premiers of Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, Ontario and Alberta joined virtually to release a study by power utilities in three partner provinces and to formally welcome Alberta as a signatory to the small modular reactor (SMR) memorandum of understanding (MOU).

With the addition of Alberta to the MOU, all provinces involved have agreed to collaborate on the advancement of SMRs as a clean energy option to address climate change and regional energy demands, while supporting economic growth and innovation.

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The SMR feasibility study, formally requested as part of the MOU in December 2019, concludes that the development of SMRs would support domestic energy needs, curb greenhouse gas emissions and position Canada as a global leader in this emerging technology. 

SMRs are nuclear reactors that produce 300 megawatts (MW) of electricity or less. They can support large established grids, small grids, remote off-grid communities and resource projects.

The study, conducted by Ontario Power Generation, Bruce Power, NB Power and SaskPower, identifies three streams of SMR project proposals for consideration by the governments of Ontario, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan.

Stream 1 proposes a first grid-scale SMR project of approximately 300 MW constructed at the Darlington nuclear site in Ontario by 2028. Subsequent units in Saskatchewan would follow, with the first SMR projected to be in service in 2032.

Stream 2 ​involves two fourth generation, advanced small modular reactors that would be developed in New Brunswick through the construction of demonstration units at the Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station.  

By fostering collaboration among the various research, manufacturing, federal and provincial agencies, an initial ARC Clean Energy demonstration unit plans to be ready by 2030. Moltex Energy Inc.'s waste recycling facility and reactor is preparing to be ready by the early 2030s. 

Through ongoing support and collaborations, these advanced technologies could start being deployed as early as 2030 in support of the industrial needs in areas like Saskatchewan and Alberta, and indeed around the globe.

Stream 3 proposes a new class of micro-SMRs designed primarily to replace the use of diesel in remote communities and mines. A five-MW gas-cooled demonstration project is under way at Chalk River, Ont., with plans to be in service by 2026.

The report identifies the potential for all three streams to create employment and economic growth benefits for Canada, as well as opportunities to export technology and expertise to address global issues such as climate change and energy reliability.

The next action identified in the MOU is development of a joint strategic plan, to be drafted in collaboration by the governments of Saskatchewan, Ontario, New Brunswick and Alberta. The plan is expected to be completed in the spring of 2021.

The partner provinces will continue to work together and across the nuclear industry, to help ensure Canada remains at the forefront of nuclear innovation, while creating new opportunities for jobs, economic growth, innovation and a lower-carbon future.

"Today's announcement confirms the commitment of our provinces to advancing SMRs as a clean energy option, leveraging the strength and knowledge of each of our jurisdictions," said Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe. "This study confirms the feasibility of small modular reactors in Canada and outlines a path forward to deploy this new clean, safe, reliable and competitively priced power. This new technology will help attract investment, create high-skilled jobs and contribute to our growing economy."

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