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Alberta joins efforts to advance small modular nuclear reactors

Alberta joins efforts to advance small modular nuclear reactors

CALGARY—Alberta has joined an MOU to support the development of small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs) in the fight against climate change.

The MOU already includes three other provinces, New Brunswick, Saskatchewan and Ontario.

The 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.

An SMR Feasibility Study, which was commissioned as part of the MOU in December 2019, found the development of SMRs would address local energy needs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and set the country up as a leader in the field of SMRs.

SMRs are nuclear reactors that produce 300 megawatts of electricity or less, making them capable of supporting large established grids, small grids, remote off-grid communities and resource projects.

The study was carried out by Ontario Power Generation, Bruce Power, NB Power and SaskPower. It highlighted three streams of SMR project proposals for consideration by the governments of Ontario, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan.

The first 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.

The second involves two fourth generation advanced SMRs 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. According to Alberta officials, these advanced technologies could start being deployed as early as 2030 in support of the industrial needs in Canada and globally.

The final stream identified by the study 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 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.

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