The government of Canada’s Saskatchewan province has unveiled plans to establish an office to coordinate nuclear policy and program work. The office, dubbed the Nuclear Secretariat, will have as its primary mission to develop and execute a strategic plan to deploy small modular reactors, according to a June 24 press release. The secretariat will be housed within the Climate Change and Adaptation Division of Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Environment.
What they’re saying: "The deployment of small modular reactors in Saskatchewan will require collaboration with several partners to fully encompass the benefits Saskatchewan could see in way of jobs, enhanced value chains for Saskatchewan’s uranium, and our made-in-Saskatchewan climate policy,” said Dustin Duncan, the province’s environment minister. “Clean nuclear energy will provide Saskatchewan the tools to fight climate change. The advancement of small modular reactors in Canada brings economic and environmental benefits with new clean technology that is also safe, reliable, and competitively priced power.”
On December 1, 2019, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe signed a memorandum of understanding with the premiers of Ontario and New Brunswick regarding the development and deployment of SMRs across Canada. In a joint statement , the premiers said that the implementation of the new technology would “provide meaningful action in reducing our carbon emissions in electricity production, while providing affordable baseload power to our communities and industries.”
Context: For some years now, Canada has been positioning itself as a future global leader in the development and deployment of SMR technology:
In April 2017, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) published the 2016-2026 10-Year Integrated Plan Summary, declaring the goal of demonstrating the commercial viability of SMRs by 2026.
In June 2017, CNL launched a request for expressions of interest ( EOI) to gather input on its proposed SMR program. By October, the EOI had yielded responses from 80 organizations around the world, including 19 for siting a prototype or demonstration reactor at a CNL campus. Fifty-one responses were from Canada, 11 from the United Kingdom, and nine from the United States, with the remainder from Asian, European, and South American nations.
In April 2018, CNL issued an invitation to SMR project proponents that wished to participate in an evaluation process for the construction and operation of an SMR demonstration project at a CNL-managed site.
In June 2018, CNL announced that four SMR project proponents had submitted responses to its invitation: Global First Power, StarCore Nuclear, Terrestrial Energy, and U-Battery Canada Ltd.
In November 2018, the Canadian Nuclear Society and CNL partnered to host the first International Generation IV and Small Reactor Conference, which was held in Ottawa. Released at the conference was A Call to Action: A Canadian Roadmap for Small Modular Reactors, the result of an initiative launched earlier in the year by Canada’s Department of Natural Resources. The roadmap included more than 50 recommendations, covering topics such as waste management, regulatory readiness, and international engagement.
In July 2019, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission posted to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency website a notice of the commencement of an environmental assessment for Global First Power’s proposed 5-MWe Micro Modular Reactor (MMR), to be sited at the CNL-operated Chalk River Laboratories, in Ontario.
Also in July 2019, CNL launched the Canadian Nuclear Research Initiative (CNRI), a program designed to accelerate the deployment of SMRs in Canada.
In April 2020, CNL entered into a collaboration agreement with Moltex Energy. Funded through the CNRI, the agreement included work to support aspects of Moltex’s nuclear fuel development program for its Stable Salt Reactor, a 300-MWe SMR design.
In June 2020, Global First Power, Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation, and Ontario Power Generation formed a joint venture to construct, own, and operate the MMR at Chalk River. The venture, known as the Global First Power Limited Partnership, is owned equally by OPG and USNC-Power, the Canadian subsidiary of USNC.