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Premier Jason Kenney has signalled the intent for Alberta to enter into a memorandum of understanding with Ontario, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick to support the development of versatile and scalable small modular reactors (SMRs).
SMRs are smaller than traditional nuclear reactors and scalable to suit local needs, with lower upfront capital costs and enhanced safety features. This new and versatile technology could supply non-emitting, low-cost energy for on-grid and off-grid communities in Alberta, including remote and rural areas of the province, as well as industries with a significant need for steam, such as Alberta’s oil sands.
“Our government is exploring all opportunities that could help diversify our economy and create jobs for Albertans. We are building on our track record of responsible and innovative energy production by exploring the potential for small modular reactors, which have the potential to generate reliable and affordable energy, while also strengthening our traditional resource sectors and reducing emissions. We are excited to collaborate with our provincial partners to stay ahead of the game in the development of this promising technology.”
“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. By signing on to this agreement, our government is taking another step to attract investment and job creators to our province by ensuring we have the appropriate regulatory framework in place should private industry decide to pursue this emerging technology.”
Alberta’s Recovery Plan is a bold, ambitious long-term strategy to build, diversify, and create tens of thousands of jobs now. By building schools, roads and other core infrastructure we are benefiting our communities. By diversifying our economy and attracting investment with Canada’s most competitive tax environment, we are putting Alberta on a path for a generation of growth. Alberta came together to save lives by flattening the curve and now we must do the same to save livelihoods, grow and thrive.
- SMRs are nuclear reactors that are smaller and more flexible than conventional nuclear reactors. SMRs would be small enough to be built in a factory and shipped by truck, rail or ship.
- A typical SMR would generate between two and 300 megawatts of electricity, which could provide power for a village or small city. In comparison, a conventional nuclear reactor can generate 600 to 1,000 megawatts, which can provide power for a large city.
- SMRs could operate independently or be linked to multiple units, depending on the required amount of power.
- In November 2018, the federal government released the Canadian Small Modular Reactor Roadmap that outlines recommendations for collaboration among federal, provincial and territorial governments, Indigenous communities and other stakeholders to support SMR development in Canada.
- In February 2020, the federal government announced plans for a fall 2020 launch of Canada’s SMR Action Plan, which will outline progress and ongoing efforts across Canada.
- In December 2019, New Brunswick, Ontario and Saskatchewan signed a memorandum of understanding to work together to support the development and deployment of SMRs.
- Canada is the second largest uranium producer in the world, with about 15 per cent of total world production.
- The Athabasca Basin, which straddles the northern Alberta-Saskatchewan border, contains some of the greatest uranium resources in the world.