Alberta joins Saskatchewan, Ontario and New Brunswick in small modular nuclear reactor MOU

Alberta has signed on with Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Ontario’s memorandum of understanding on the advancement of small modular reactor technology in Canada.

Premier Scott Moe called this “a good day” for the country during Wednesday morning’s virtual announcement with Ontario Premier Doug Ford, New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney.

“I believe it’s a very good day as well for the world that is searching for a solution as to how we address climate change and to ensure a reliable supply of clean energy for decades to come,” said Moe in his opening remarks during the news event.

“Alberta has demonstrated a tremendous research capacity as well as a tremendous drive to innovate wherever they turn their attention to. There are obvious opportunities to deploy SMRs in the province of Alberta and throughout this nation.”

The involved provinces will 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.

SMR feasibility study

The premiers also announced the release of a feasibility study as part of a MOU request from December 2019. According to the government, the report concluded 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 capable of generating between 200 megawatts and 300 megawatts of electricity or less. They are small enough to be built in a factory and shipped easily, and can work on their own or be stacked together to generate more electricity.

The study, which was conducted by power utilities in the original three provinces including SaskPower, identifies three pathways of SMR project proposals for consideration. Moe said he’s encouraged by the findings of the report.

“It confirms that SMRs are feasible from both technical and economical perspectives, and that they will support energy security in our nation,” Moe stated.

Here is a break down of each stream:

  • Stream 1: 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: 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: 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, Ontario, with plans to be in service by 2026.

The next step indicated in the MOU is for the provinces to develop a joint strategic plan, which will be created in collaboration by the four provinces. It is expected to be completed this spring.

The full report to the SMR Feasibility Study can be found here.

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