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Canada/provinces sign additional agreement for deployment of small modular reactors

The governments of Saskatchewan and Alberta in Canada have signed a supplementary memorandum of understanding to promote the development and deployment of nuclear power plants as they look for ways to secure a supply of reliable and sustainable electricity generation by 2050.

The two provinces said the MOU will support cooperation and information sharing in key areas of nuclear power generation, including nuclear supply chains and workforce development, security of fuel supply and the development and regulation of nuclear reactor technologies – including small modular reactors.

The provinces will also work to promote industry decarbonization and improve network capabilities, a statement said.

In 2019, Saskatchewan, Ontario and New Brunswick signed an MOU to promote SMRs in Canada, with Alberta formally joining the MOU in 2021.

In March 2022, an SMR development plan developed by the four MOU provinces was released.

The new, bilateral MOU between Saskatchewan and Alberta has additional areas of focus, such as industrial decarbonization and electric grid reliability.

Canada is optimistic about the prospects for nuclear energy, including SMRs. The country has a fleet of 19 large-scale commercial nuclear power plants that provide approximately 14% of electricity generation. Major projects have begun to extend the life of the reactors at the Bruce, Darlington and Pickering stations.

In August 2023, Canada approved up to CAD74 million (€50 million, $54 million) in federal funding for SMR development in Saskatchewan, with the potential deployment of an initial plant in the mid-2030s and more units to follow.

Ontario Power Generation plans to build four new General Electric Hitachi BWRX-300 power plants at the existing Darlington nuclear site in Ontario. Initial site work for that project has begun and the first unit could come online by 2028.

Utility SaskPower has already selected the BWRX-300 SMR for potential deployment in Saskatchewan, subject to a decision to build it in 2029.