Saskatchewan is moving forward with plans to explore the potential of small modular reactors (SMRs)designed to provide clean baseload energy to the province. In a press briefing on Monday, March 28, Province of Saskatchewan, Minister of Crown Corporations, Don Morgan was joined by officials of the three other provinces who have signed on to an interjurisdictional memorandum of understanding to develop approaches to clean and efficient energy development through SMRs.
Morgan said it was part of a commitment to try to meet clean energy production goals and steer away eventually from carbon producing coal powered generation.
“With increased demand for electricity comes increased expectation that electrical utilities provide this power in a sustainable and environmentally responsible way,” stated Morgan. “SMR technology has the potential to help our economies grow and prosper while contributing efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve resilience to the effect of climate change.”
Also involved in the agreement are Ontario, New Brunswick and Alberta. Ontario is the pioneer in nuclear generated power in the country, and New Brunswick was recognized for its continued research and development in the small scale nuclear network. Of course, Alberta is leader in the country’s fossil fuel production and refinement, but Alberta’s Energy Minister, Sonya Savage, says their province needs to migrate into clean energy production.
"Alberta is committed to responsible and innovative energy development," said Sonya Savage, Alberta's Minister of Energy. "There is great potential for SMRs to provide zero-emission energy for industrial operations in remote areas and to further reduce emissions from Alberta's oil sands.”
The joint strategic plan for the deployment of small nuclear reactors is the next deliverable on the way to site selection and logistical planning for integrating nuclear power into the system. That realization is still a way off, says Morgan.
“Saskatchewan will not make a final decision on whether to build an SMR for several years, but SaskPower’s project team has been working diligently on the initial planning work to help inform that decision,” explained Morgan. “A critical part of this planning work is extensive engagement and public dialogue throughout the entire province.”
As further discussion about SMR development unfolds, Morgan noted that exploration in alternative generation methods, like wind and solar, would continue but neither would produce suffice power for a baseline load. Saskatchewan’s ready access to uranium and existing dedicated research facilities makes it an ideal leader in the development of SMR technology and deployment, maintains the consortium.