The ministers held separate productive meetings about Korean-developed SMR technologies with the first vice minister of the Korean Ministry of Science, the CEO of the Korean Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI), senior executives of Korean Hydro Nuclear Power (KHNP), the CEO of Hyundai Engineering and senior executives of Korea’s GS Engineering. These meetings were an opportunity to understand the interest that Korea has in exploring trade, investment and energy opportunities in Alberta.

“Alberta is looking to assist the oilsands industry in reducing emissions. Both the Alberta government and the federal government have signalled openness to SMR technologies as a potential tool to reduce emissions. Commitments, including financial commitments, from the Korean government and its agencies that they are looking for a private sector partner to allow them to deploy their approved SMR design have captured Alberta’s interest. Alberta is always looking to work with any SMR company that can deliver a speedy and safe deployment of this technology.”

Brian Jean, Minister of Jobs, Economy and Northern Development

“I am committed to strengthening partnerships to grow Alberta’s international trade and was interested in the potential of Korea’s technologies to supply non-emitting energy. We have agreed to provide pathfinding services to these Korean agencies as they seek a private sector partner. We are prepared to assist SMR proponents in securing federal government support like the recently announced federal backing for Ontario Power Generation’s SMR project in Ontario.”

Rajan Sawhney, Minister of Trade, Immigration and Multiculturalism

Korean government-owned KAERI is looking to transfer its proprietary SMART small modular reactor technologies into Alberta with a view to securing an oilsands partner to deploy SMRs as a non-emitting source of steam for bitumen production. Korea’s long-standing atomic energy expertise is built on their success with Canadian Candu reactors in the 1970s and their safety systems and processes closely mirror those of Canada. Alberta’s government has agreed to provide pathfinding services to KAERI to speed potential investments.

Vice Minister Tae Seog Oh of the Korean Science Ministry expressed willingness on the part of the Korean government to support the installation of KAERI-developed SMRs in global markets. Vice Minister Oh declared that the Korean government was open to a variety of export development support and other financial assistance to early purchasers of Korea’s approved SMR design.

“We believe SMART deployment in Alberta could serve as a groundbreaking example for global carbon reduction efforts. We appreciate the foresight and leadership of the Government of Alberta towards a cleaner and more sustainable energy future. KAERI’s latest advancements in SMART technology mean that KAERI is poised to make a meaningful contribution towards a more sustainable and prosperous future for Alberta.”

Joo Han Gyu, president, KAERI

Ministers Jean and Sawhney also met with Korean government-owned KHNP, which is the sole operator for Korea’s hydroelectric dams and its two dozen nuclear power plants. KHNP has expressed interest in building and operating Korean SMRs deployed in Alberta. Korean engineering firms GS Engineering and Hyundai Engineering also expressed their interest in bringing their SMR engineering expertise to Alberta.

These discussions on Korean SMR technologies build on the work begun in August 2022 by former premier Jason Kenney.

Quick facts

  • In 2022, Alberta exported approximately $1.5 billion worth of goods to South Korea.

  • South Korea was Alberta's fourth-largest export market last year.

  • South Korea has the fifth-largest atomic energy industry in the world and runs two dozen full-scale nuclear power plants. It has three atomic energy power plants under construction.

  • Any SMR technology deployed in Alberta must meet Canadian safety requirements.

  • KAERI is an agency of the Korean government. Its proprietary “SMART small modular reactor” is one of only a few modular reactor technologies to have received design approvals from a nuclear regulatory agency.

  • Any SMR investment decisions would have to be made by a private sector firm and would require an approved design and approved permitting for the reactor installation.

  • Alberta shares a strong and mutually beneficial relationship with South Korea encompassing trade, investment and bilateral cooperation. Alberta maintains an office in Seoul