SaskPower selects two potential sites for SMR deployment

21 September 2022

Canadian utility SaskPower has identified two areas in the province of Saskatchewan - Estevan and Elbow - for further study to determine the feasibility of hosting a small modular reactor (SMR).

The Elbow study area (Image: SaskPower)

The Estevan study area includes the areas around Boundary/Rafferty Dam and around the Grant Devine Dam. The Elbow study area encompasses the area around Lake Diefenbaker, from Gardiner Dam to the Diefenbaker Dam.

To identify these study areas, SaskPower used technical criteria based on the requirements of the various SMR technologies the utility evaluated earlier this year. Some of these criteria include proximity to a suitable water supply, existing power infrastructure, workforce, nuclear regulations and standards, and learnings from past generation siting projects.

The Estevan study area (Image: SaskPower)

Work will now begin on environmental and impact assessments and the Regional Evaluation Process (REP). This process will share current information about the project with potentially affected Indigenous groups, regional and stakeholder organisations. It will also allow SaskPower to gather input on regional identity, siting considerations, potential economic development and future public participation preferences to support its regulatory and siting process. As part of the REP, SaskPower will establish a Regional Indigenous and Stakeholder Committee made up of nominated representatives from each study area (Estevan and Elbow) to support public participation on the SMR development project.

"Feedback and perspectives from not just the regions but from the entire province are very important to SaskPower as we plan to potentially incorporate nuclear power into the generation mix," said SaskPower President and CEO Rupen Pandya. "Engagement and consultation with Indigenous Rightsholders and the public is critical to this project, and I encourage the people of Saskatchewan to reach out and engage with us on this important project."

The utility noted that a final decision whether to build an SMR will not be made until 2029. However, it said to keep nuclear power an option for Saskatchewan, significant planning and regulatory work must be done now. "A necessary step to advance this regulatory work is to identify and select a location to potentially host an SMR," it said.

"By identifying these two study areas, SaskPower has reached another critical milestone in its planning work to potentially bring nuclear power to Saskatchewan," said Don Morgan, Minister Responsible for SaskPower. "Saskatchewan's commitment to a sustainable, reliable, and affordable electrical system is evident with today's announcement."

In June, SaskPower selected GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy's BWRX-300 SMR for potential deployment in the province in the mid-2030s after an assessment process in which it looked at several SMR technologies.

Although all of Canada's uranium production comes from Saskatchewan, the province does not currently use nuclear power. However, Saskatchewan's government identified development of SMR technology as a goal for growth in its 2019 development roadmap, and earlier this year, alongside the governments of Ontario, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Alberta, it released a joint strategic plan setting out a path for developing and deploying SMRs.

OPG has already selected the GE-Hitachi BWRX-300 for their Darlington New Nuclear Project in Ontario, where Canada's first commercial, grid-scale, SMR could be completed as early as 2028.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News