Four Canadian provinces are now working together to advance plug-and-play nuclear power generation through small modular reactors (SMRs). Late last week, the Alberta government announced it will be joining the partnership Ontario, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick has formed to support the technology, which allows reactors to be built in a factory location then transported to and installed in a host facility.
“Alberta’s rich uranium deposits, respected innovation and research sector and technically skilled and educated workforce could make us an attractive destination to develop and deploy SMRs,” asserts Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage.
The provincial initiative responds to the federal government’s urgings for collaborative development of SMR technology along with supporting policies and infrastructure, which were outlined in the 2018 release of the Canadian Small Modular Reactor Roadmap. In particular, SMRs spark interest for their potential to produce low-carbon electricity in remote off-grid communities currently dependent on diesel generators, but the flexible capability to generate from two to 300 megawatts (MW) could also be an option for industrial on-site generation and/or to connect to the grid.
“SMRs could generate clean and low-cost energy,” Premiers Doug Ford, Blaine Higgs and Scott Moe, noted as they signed their memorandum of understanding in December 2019. “It could also drive economic growth and export opportunities as these technologies are further adopted across the country and around the world.”
For Alberta and Saskatchewan that would also mean an opportunity to exploit the uranium resources in the Athabasca Basin, which are deemed among the most plentiful in the world. “We are excited to collaborate with our provincial partners to stay ahead of the game in the development of this promising technology.” Alberta Premier Jason Kenney reiterates.
Earlier this year, Minister of National Resources Seamus O’Regan promised a further federal action plan would be ready by the fall.