The Premiers of Saskatchewan, Ontario, and New Brunswick were joined by the Premier of Alberta Wednesday morning to unveil the findings of a feasibility study on small modular (SMR) reactors in Canada, and to bring Alberta into the Memorandum of Understanding that was initially signed in December of 2019.
Small modular reactors are nuclear reactors that produce 300 megawatts of electricity or less and are intended to support established energy grids, smaller grids, off-grid communities, and resource projects.
The study itself, which was conducted by Ontario Power Generation, Bruce Power, NB Power, and SaskPower, noted the development of SMRs would help to meet domestic energy needs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and set Canada in a position as a global leader in the technology. The study also identified three streams of project proposals for consideration by the governments of the provinces that have signed on to the MOU.
"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.”
The first stream proposed by the study would see a grid-scale SMR being constructed at the Darlington nuclear site in Ontario by 2028, with subsequent units being built in Saskatchewan. The first one for this province is projected to be in service by 2032.
The second stream would see two 4th generation SMRs developed in New Brunswick at the Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station. The demonstration units would help with research amongst various stakeholders, and allow for the technologies to be deployed starting in 2030 in Saskatchewan and Alberta to support industrial needs, and then marketed around the world.
The third stream proposed a new class of micro-SMRs to replace the use of diesel in remote communities and mines. A five-megawatt demonstration project is already underway at Chalk River, Ontario with plans for it to be in service by 2026.
The report also highlights the potential for all three streams to create employment and economic growth for the country and also provide opportunities for the technology and expertise to be exported to help with global issues surrounding climate change and energy reliability.
The next step in the process, as noted in the memorandum of understanding, will be the development of a joint strategic plan. The plan is to be drafted in collaboration with all four governments, with an expectation of it being completed by this spring.