Canada News

Alberta signs nuclear reactor deal

EDMONTON – Alberta has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with New Brunswick, Ontario, and Saskatchewan to support the development of small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs).

Premier Jason Kenney signed the MOU, previously signed by the three other provinces, on April 14. He joined New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs, Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe at a virtual event where the premiers shared the findings of a study that examined the feasibility of SMRs in Canada.

“Alberta has always been committed to clean, affordable energy. Small modular reactors are an exciting new technology that could be used in the future to significantly cut greenhouse gas emissions, for example by generating power for Canadian oilsands producers,” said Jason Kenney, Premier of Alberta.

“Nuclear is the cleanest form of electricity production, and with SMRs is now more affordable and scalable for industrial use. We are excited to be part of this group that will help develop Canadian SMR technology.”

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.

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 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 megawatts 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, Alberta and 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-megawatt gas-cooled demonstration project is underway 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 the development of a joint strategic plan, to be drafted by the governments of Alberta, New Brunswick, Ontario and Saskatchewan. The plan is expected to be completed this spring.

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.