Canadian government sees big potential from small modular reactors
Canada is positioning itself up to be a leader in a new age of nuclear power by exploring the use of small modular reactors (SMR).
“It’s the next wave of innovation. It’s the future of the Canadian nuclear sector,” according to Diane Cameron, director of the Nuclear Energy Division at Natural Resources Canada.
The federal government has been interested in SMR technology for a few years, says Cameron, but recently it spent months doing cross-country consultations with power utilities, communities and others, and published a roadmap of a potential development plan.
“We wanted to get out ahead of this technology breakthrough and do our homework,” she said.
Private companies designing SMRs say these small reactors that generate under 300 megawatts of electricity would be cheaper and smaller than conventional nuclear power plants, manufactured in factories and portable, so that they could be shipped to remote communities or job sites, such as the Alberta oilsands or mines, that are off the grid and otherwise rely on diesel.
“We need to start mitigating those emissions from diesel, from coal, and this could be part of that solution,” said Cameron.
Canada has long been a leader in nuclear power. It currently makes up 15 per cent of the country’s energy mix, and billions of dollars are being spent in Ontario to refurbish aging nuclear plants.
But elsewhere, some large-scale and expensive conventional nuclear plants are aging out of commission.
Jacqueline Hansen – CBC News – June 25, 2019.