MoU sees X-energy, Alberta grow their SMR relationship

31 January 2023

X-Energy Canada and Invest Alberta Corporation (IAC) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to develop economic opportunities supporting the potential deployment of the Xe-100 small modular reactor (SMR) within the province.

(Image: Government of Alberta)

The non-binding and non-exclusive MoU covers joint efforts including the identification of supply chain opportunities, engagement with local and provincial governments, and strengthening of relationships with Indigenous communities interested in equity participation in Xe-100 projects. IAC will also support X-energy to set up a divisional office to support such local efforts.

X-energy's Xe-100 is a high temperature gas-cooled reactor. Scalable to meet demand, with one unit generating up to 80 MWe from 200 MW of thermal power, and capable of providing high-temperature steam and electric power production, the technology can provide clean energy to directly support heavy industry, including oil sands operations, petrochemical and other industrial processes. The company estimates that a four-unit plant in Alberta would create up to 3,800 direct and indirect full-time jobs, most of which would be located in the province.

X-energy is ready to support Alberta's energy, chemical and mining industries to achieve carbon emissions reductions, both on and off the grid, X-energy Canada President Katherine Moshonas Cole said. "A successful early deployment of our Xe-100 SMR technology in Alberta will better position the province to seize the economic opportunities that our technology brings; opportunities that will deliver sustainable economic benefits and will contribute to the diversification and health of Alberta's economy," she added.

The governments of Ontario, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Alberta last year released a joint strategic plan setting out a path for developing and deploying SMRs.

The IAC is the Government of Alberta's crown corporation promoting high-value investments, connecting industry, government partners and economic development organisations and facilitating the flow of investment into the province, supporting the start and scale-up of innovative businesses. This is not its first SMR MoU: the IAC is also supporting commercialisation of Terrestrial Energy's Integral Molten Salt Reactor under an agreement signed last August.

IAC CEO Rick Christiaanse said X-energy Canada's interest in expanding its presence in Alberta "represents progress toward the transition to a diversified lower carbon economy".

Alberta has been considered in the past as a possible location for large-scale nuclear power plants, but a 1000 MWe electricity generation plant proposed for the north of the province was shelved in 2011. The province's interest in SMRs is centred on their potential as an economically attractive and carbon-free source of steam and process heat to support extractive industries including the production of natural gas from the province's extensive oil sands (tar sands) deposits.

"We welcome all market-driven generation solutions that can help grow Alberta's energy sector and create new jobs," Alberta Minister of Energy Pete Guthrie said. "SMRs have great potential to supply non-emitting energy in a number of different applications - including the oil sands. With Alberta's long history of responsible energy development, we are optimistic about the opportunities ahead and will continue working with industry to explore and enable SMR development in this province."

Ontario Power Generation and X-energy last year agreed to work together to pursue opportunities to deploy Xe-100 reactors at industrial sites in Ontario.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News