EDMONTON – The Province of Alberta is investing $7 million through the Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction Fund to assist a Cenovus Energy study looking into how small modular nuclear reactors (SMR) can be used in northern Alberta oilsands operations.
As outlined in the province’s Emissions Reduction and Energy Development Plan and A Strategic Plan for the Deployment of Small Modular Reactors, Alberta is committed to responsible and innovative energy development, and SMRs have the potential to provide zero-emissions energy and further reduce emissions from Alberta’s oilsands in the years to come, a release said.
“Small modular reactors have great potential to supply non-emitting energy in many different applications, including the oilsands. Further studies like this are needed to see if the technology is suitable for those industrial applications. If so, it could be transformational for the in-situ oilsands sector and other sectors in Alberta,” Emissions Reduction Alberta CEO Justin Reimer said in the release.
SMR technology involves scalable nuclear reactors that supply non-emitting heat and power. Cenovus Energy’s $26.7-million study will look at whether SMR technology could be applied to steam-assisted gravity drainage projects in the oilsands, which drill into the reservoir and inject steam to soften the oil.
“While there is currently no project being planned, this study frames the discussion around what is possible in the years ahead,” the release stated.
Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and New Brunswick released A Strategic Plan for the Development of Small Modular Reactors in 2022. The plan commits the Alberta Utilities Commission and Alberta Energy Regulator to deliver findings on areas of overlap, uncertainty and duplication between the federal and provincial regulatory systems to Alberta’s government in 2023, the release added.