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Canadian provinces partner on SMR development and release feasibility study

By John Gorman, President & CEO of the Canadian Nuclear Association
April 16, 2021

This week, Canada took crucial steps in realizing the potential of Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) to help achieve clean energy and combat climate change.

In a virtual ceremony on April 14, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney joined Saskatchewan, Ontario and New Brunswick by signing the SMR Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)—a key partnership for Canada’s transition to clean energy sources. The MOU was first signed in December 2019 by Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe, Ontario Premier Doug Ford and New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs, committing the provinces to working cooperatively to advance the development and deployment of SMRs in Canada.

The 2019 MOU called for the delivery of an SMR Feasibility Study that looks at the business case for SMRs in the three provinces. The study—Feasibility of Small Modular Reactor Development and Deployment in Canada—was released by Premiers Moe, Higgs and Ford during this week’s ceremony. It was prepared by Ontario Power Generation (OPG), Bruce Power, New Brunswick Power (NB Power) and Saskatchewan Power (SaskPower).

The power companies assess that SMRs have the potential to be an economically competitive source of energy in New Brunswick, Ontario and Saskatchewan, with some designs connected to the grid as early as 2028. The development of these innovative reactors would support domestic energy needs, create employment, curb greenhouse gas emissions, and position Canada as a global competitor in an emerging nuclear sector. Find an executive summary of the SMR Feasibility Study here.

The next step will be the development of a strategic plan for the deployment of SMRs. This plan will outline steps required to achieve project commitments in a timely manner. It will also identify economic impacts, key risks, mitigation measures, as well as the policy and regulatory analysis required for expanded deployment of nuclear technology in Canada.

SMRs are the next generation of nuclear energy innovation, producing 300 megawatts (MW) of electricity or less. Much smaller than traditional nuclear reactors, they are less expensive to mass produce and easier to deploy. SMRs provide a source of safe, clean, affordable energy, while producing the density of electricity and heat needed to maximize the potential of all other energy sources. Their modular design allows for deployment in large established grids, small grids, remote off-grid communities and as an energy source for resource projects.

The release of the SMR Feasibility Study and Alberta’s signing of the MOU will help pave the way for Canada to become a global leader in the development and deployment of SMR technology. New nuclear is essential to Canada reaching its goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. We will only combat climate change by adopting existing and emerging low-carbon technologies, including SMRs.

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