Canadian provinces to share expertise on SMR development

November 27, 2023, 7:00AMNuclear News

Dustin Duncan, Saskatchewan’s minister responsible for SaskPower (from left), and Todd Smith, Ontario’s minister of energy, at the master services agreement announcement in Regina, Saskatchewan. (Photo: OPG)

Ontario Power Generation and its Laurentis Energy Partners (LEP) subsidiary have announced details of a master services agreement with SaskPower to further Saskatchewan’s plans for small modular reactor deployment.

The agreement, announced on November 20, runs for up to five years and serves as a foundation for a long-term strategic partnership to streamline SMR development in the province. LEP is tasked in the agreement with program management, licensing, and operational readiness activities.

Background: In June 2022, SaskPower chose GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy’s BWRX-300 SMR for potential deployment in Saskatchewan in the mid-2030s. The assessment involved a collaboration with OPG, which in December 2021 selected the BWRX-300 as the SMR technology to be deployed at its Darlington nuclear plant.

SaskPower said at the time that its selection of the same technology would help enable a pan-Canadian fleet-based approach to SMR deployment, which could offer many advantages—such as lower regulatory, construction, and operating costs—while eliminating first-of-a-kind risk. The utility also noted that it would not make a final decision regarding SMR construction in the province until 2029.

As part of its planning and regulatory activities to potentially build SMRs, SaskPower in September 2022 selected the Estevan and Elbow regions of Saskatchewan for further study. The Estevan study region includes the areas around Boundary/Rafferty dam and around the Grant Devine dam, while the Elbow region encompasses the area around Lake Diefenbaker, from Gardiner dam to the Diefenbaker dam.

Earlier this year, OPG and SaskPower renewed an agreement to continue working together on new nuclear development, including SMRs, in both Saskatchewan and Ontario. Under that agreement, the utilities will provide mutual support by sharing lessons learned, technical resources and expertise, best practices, and operating experience. In addition, the two companies are to consider opportunities for future collaboration in other areas, including project development and plant operations.

Signers’ language: Representatives of OPG, LEP, and SaskPower, along with Ontario energy minister Todd Smith and Saskatchewan minister responsible for SaskPower Dustin Duncan, gathered in Regina, Saskatchewan, on November 20 to discuss the new agreement. “With decades of experience in building, operating, and maintaining clean, reliable nuclear power generation, OPG is able to help Saskatchewan add nuclear to its supply mix,” said OPG president and chief executive officer Ken Hartwick. “Through these agreements, we are using a fleet-style approach, which will increase efficiency and decrease costs as we deploy much-needed new nuclear generation in both provinces.”

SaskPower president and CEO Rupen Pandya noted that his firm’s clean energy transition “is part of a global transformation to a sustainable future” and that “the best path forward on this journey is through collaboration.” He continued, “Ontario Power Generation and Laurentis Energy Partners bring decades of combined experience in the Canadian nuclear industry, and this expertise is something that will be extremely valuable as part of our SMR development project.”

Ontario’s Smith asserted that his province “is ready to support partners across Canada—like Saskatchewan—and around the world, leveraging the expertise of our world-class nuclear operators and supply chain to support their deployment of small modular reactors as a clean and reliable source of electricity,” while Saskatchewan’s Duncan declared, “Together, our two provinces will continue to build shared prosperity, opportunity, and leadership. Today’s agreement is not only good for Saskatchewan and Ontario but will protect sustainable energy security in Canada for decades to come.”

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