Collaborating with Korea on small modular reactors

Clockwise, from left to right: Minister Brian Jean, Minister Rajan Sawhney and Joo Han Gyu, president of the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute, hold their signed memorandum of understanding.

Minister of Jobs, Economy and Northern Development Brian Jean and Minister of Trade, Immigration and Multiculturalism Rajan Sawhney signed an MOU with KAERI president Joo Han Gyu at a virtual event on April 18 to explore the viability of deploying small modular reactor (SMR) technology in the province. SMR technology has great potential to supply non-emitting energy in many different industries and applications, including in Alberta’s oilsands.

“Alberta is, and always will be, an energy powerhouse. Alberta’s government is committed to actively exploring opportunities to lower emissions while safely powering the world for decades to come. This MOU will allow us to build on the South Korean government’s interest in supporting safe and effective deployment of their SMR technology. It offers an opportunity to leverage new innovations to grow Alberta’s energy economy.”

Brian Jean, Minister of Jobs, Economy and Northern Development

“Alberta’s government is committed to strengthening cooperation to grow our international trade. This MOU, a result of our recent trade mission, is a key step in continuing to build a productive relationship between Alberta and South Korea to explore the potential of SMR technologies and help our responsible energy production thrive in a low-carbon world. It is also another example of continued global interest in Alberta and the diverse opportunities we offer.”

Rajan Sawhney, Minister of Trade, Immigration and Multiculturalism

As part of the MOU, Alberta’s government and KAERI will work together to identify federal and provincial regulatory requirements and existing industrial development programs to support the deployment of SMR technology in Alberta. KAERI is also looking into how they could establish a presence in Alberta to explore the viability of SMR technology, including its proprietary System-Integrated Modular Advanced Reactor (SMART).

“It is time to translate the net-zero emission commitment into actions, and SMR technology is crucial in carbon reduction actions. A deployment of SMART in Alberta will be the pioneer in the battle against climate change.”

Joo Han Gyu, president, KAERI

The MOU builds on a recent mission to South Korea in March, where ministers Jean and Sawhney met with the Korean government, Korean energy agencies and top Korean engineering firms to discuss Korea’s SMR technologies. It also builds on work begun in August 2022 by former premier Jason Kenney, including a joint strategic plan for SMR development in collaboration with Alberta, Ontario, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick.

Quick facts

  • The MOU is effective for three years from the date of signing.
  • Any SMR technology deployed in Alberta must meet Canadian safety requirements and would require an approved design and approved permitting for the reactor installation.
  • 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.
  • Alberta shares a strong and mutually beneficial relationship with South Korea encompassing trade, investment and bilateral cooperation. Alberta maintains an international office in Seoul.
  • In 2022, Alberta exported approximately $1.5 billion worth of goods to South Korea, making it Alberta's fourth-largest export market.