“With our provincial partners across the country, we intend to stay ahead of the game in the development of this promising technology,” Kenney said.
By signing on to the agreement the Alberta government can ensure it has the regulatory framework to attract private industry investment in the emerging technology, Kenney said.
Small reactors could be deployed in on-grid and off-grid communities, and remote and rural areas, and the technology also has the potential to be used to supply energy to oil sands and mining operations, the release said.
Savage said the technology is still emerging, but there are about 150 proposed designs being developed around the world, and the reactors could be available within 10 years.
Savage also acknowledged safety and environmental concerns over nuclear power, but said SMRs are being designed with enhanced safety features.
“Researchers have reiterated that the smaller scale – in terms of both power output and physical size – helps to mitigate the risk,” Savage said.
Last December, New Brunswick, Ontario and Saskatchewan signed a memorandum of understanding to work together to support the development and deployment of SMRs.
In 2018, the federal government published a roadmap with more than 50 recommendations to help develop and deploy the technology in an effort to bring down Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions and meet climate change goals.
Thecommittee behind the roadmap, made up of interested provinces, territories, and power utilities, reported that SMRs have low capital costs, making them easier to finance than large-scale traditional nuclear reactors. It also said many SMR designs “offer enhancements to further improve safety, performance, and prevention of accidents.”
John Gorman, President & CEO of the Canadian Nuclear Association, said in a statement the move would contribute to Canada’s mix of energy resources and help it reach its goal of net zero emissions by 2050.
“This is a crucial step in Canada’s energy transition because SMRs produce the density of electricity and heat needed to maximize the potential of all other energy sources,” said Gorman.
The federal government is expected to launch its SMR Action Plan in the fall.