Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says adding nuclear power to his province’s energy mix while augmenting renewables and slashing coal-fired plants would reduce emissions caused by electricity generation to a net-zero by 2050.
“This is positive for Saskatchewan, it’s positive for Canada and it’s taking real action in addressing global climate change,” Moe told reporters on Sunday in Toronto, where premiers are gathering for policy meetings this week.
Alongside Ontario Premier Doug Ford and New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs, Moe said the trio inked a Memorandum-of-Understanding to support planning, development and “early-stage commercialization” of Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) in their jurisdictions.
“This technology has potential of creating high quality jobs and local economic development in communities where existing electricity transmission infrastructure already exists,” said Moe.
“Or in further or remote communities who currently rely on higher emissions power production methods.”
According to the National Energy Board, 84 percent of Saskatchewan’s electricity is generated burning coal and natural gas.
Conversely, 90 percent of Ontario’s electricity demands are met with zero carbon-emitting sources; nuclear (58 percent), hydro (22 percent) and approximately 10 percent via wind and solar.
New Brunswick’s energy palette is somewhere in between as the province still generates 40 percent of its electricity through burning coal and natural gas.
Small SLOWPOKE (safe low power critical experiment) reactors have been around for some time and are still used for research by the places like University of Alberta and McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.
About the size of a cinder block and powerful enough to heat a bathtub of water, SLOWPOKES were built in the 1970s by Atomic Energy of Canada Limited – AECL tried to build more powerful versions, but these got little traction because natural gas was cheap.
While military submariner applications have been around for decades,–Russia recently unveiled a floating reactor to power the Siberian town of Pevek–mini-reactors or SMRs for commercial electricity in Canada have not been tried.
Canadian Nuclear Association president John Stewart told The Post Millennial in an interview back in July that regulatory hurdles would push the window for SMR deployment in Canada to at least a decade.
Steward did acknowledge that expanding nuclear power would likely happen first where the primary power source remains coal.
“You would want the new generators to go in exactly where those coal-fired generators are,” said Stewart.
“If you owned (coal-fired) plants like New Brunswick or Saskatchewan does, what you really don’t want to do is complicate the project by having to change the transmission structure.”