Small Modular Reactors

Canada / SaskPower Identifies Two ‘High-Potential’ Sites For First Small Modular Reactor

By David Dalton
4 June 2024

Construction of first plant could begin as early as 2030

SaskPower Identifies Two ‘High-Potential’ Sites For First Small Modular Reactor

Canadian power utility SaskPower said it has made significant progress in its search for a potential host site for the province’s first small modular reactor (SMR) facility, identifying two “high-potential” sites.

The company said in a statement on 31 May that the that have been identified for further study are on the Boundary Dam Reservoir and the Rafferty Reservoir, both in the Estevan area, just north of the US-Canada border.

This comes following analysis of the Estevan study area, coupled with public feedback and Indigenous engagement which SaskPower will continue throughout the project. Another area, around Elbow, a village about 140 km south of the provincial capital Saskatoon, had also been under consideration.

“In addition to the technical suitability of the sites, the Estevan region offers many benefits, including proximity to the City of Estevan to access existing services, a skilled workforce, accommodations and emergency services, as well as infrastructure, roads and transmission,” said SaskPower president and chief executive officer Rupen Pandya.

“Selecting a site for the first SMR facility will allow us to proceed with the many regulatory processes which are site-specific and critical to the project moving forward.”

SaskPower said it will now begin detailed site assessment of each potential site throughout 2024, leading to a final site selection in 2025. The company hopes to make a final investment decision in 2029.

Over the coming months, the utility will begin additional studies to collect ground water and geotechnical details, while also conducting detailed land and water analyses.

Target For Operation Is 2034

SaskPower anticipates construction of its first SMR could begin as early as 2030, with a targeted in-service date of 2034. Additional facilities could begin construction as early as 2034.

The government said up to CAD50m (€33m, $36m) for the project has been committed to SaskPower from a CAD250m programme to support pre-development activities of clean electricity projects of national significance.

Additionally, over CAD24m has been committed to the government of Saskatchewan from the environment department’s future electricity fund. This programme returns pollution pricing proceeds to support clean energy projects, energy-efficient technologies and other initiatives that will help Canada meet its climate goals and achieve a net-zero-emissions economy by 2050.

The fund is intended to help spur innovation and encourage the adoption of cleaner technologies and fuels in Canada.

Canada has a fleet of 19 commercial nuclear power plants that provide about 14% of its electricity generation. Major projects have begun to extend the lifetime of reactors at the Bruce, Darlington and Pickering stations.

Last year four provinces – Saskatchewan, Ontario, New Brunswick and Alberta – put forward proposals in a strategic plan to expand the nuclear industry through the development of SMRs, saying they provide a source of safe, clean power.

Canada has taken an early lead in deploying a new generation of SMRs. One such reactor – GE-Hitachi’s BWRX-300 – is close to the start of construction at the Darlington nuclear station in Ontario.

That single SMR, the first of four that will be built at Darlington, could eventually provide electricity for 300,000 homes, the report says.

Other SMRs in various stages of licensing across the country could eventually power industrial facilities and remote mines and replace diesel in isolated communities.

Plans are progressing to build up to four GE-Hitachi BWRX-300 SMRs at the Darlington nuclear station in Ontario. Courtesy GEH.

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