SaskPower and GE Hitachi have signed an agreement to advance the development of nuclear power in Saskatchewan.
The agreement, signed Tuesday morning at SaskPower headquarters in Regina, is part of a plan to develop a small modular reactor (SMR) in the province.
SaskPower says it will work with GE Hitachi on design, fuel sourcing and fabrication for a BWRX-300 reactor, the technology selected in 2022.
The corporation says the agreement will also "support workforce and supply chain planning needed for a Saskatchewan-based SMR deployment."
An artist's rendering of the SMR technology proposed for Ontario's Darlington location. Saskatchewan plans on exploring the same type of reactor. (Ontario Power Generation)
SaskPower recently signed a master services agreement with Ontario Power Generation (OPG) and its subsidiary, Laurentis Energy Partners.
OPG also selected the BWRX-300 as the technology to be used for the development of the SMR's in the province. Ontario is currently building one of four SMR's at its nuclear facility in Darlington.
SaskPower says it is looking at Estevan and Elbow as two potential regions for the location of the modular reactor.
"We've been narrowing down within both study regions, specific sites that we could then subject to further geotechnical testing and characterization along with our partners, so that we can actually make an impact assessment application sometime in 2025," said SaskPower president and CEO Rupen Pandya.
Rupen Pandya, president and CEO of Sask Power, says the Estevan and Elbow regions in the province are being considered as potential sites for the SMR. (CBC News)
Pandya said the corporation is "working as fast as we can" to meet the province's 2050 target of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, despite the federal government's requiring provinces to have this done by 2035, 15 years earlier.
"To complete this work we must continue to establish partnerships and collaborate with organizations who have significant expertise and experience within the nuclear industry to support this journey," Pandya said.
When asked whether SaskPower has plans to follow OPG's lead by building more than one SMR, Pandya says "right now we are focused on our first reactor."
Waste management currently being looked at
Lisa McBride, GE Hitachi Canada vice president and country leader, says nuclear waste can be stored safely within the reactor before moving to permanent housing locations. However, she says the Nuclear Waste Management Organization is still looking for permanent housing locations.
"They are looking at a site selection by the end of 2024, and they're they're down to two potential sites for their deep geological repository," she said.
McBride says two sites in Ontario — South Bruce and Ignace — are being considered as permanent locations.
"Long-term planning would be something that we would need to undertake in co-ordination with the Nuclear Waste Management Organization and SaskPower. We're a few decades away from actually working through that plan, but we would certainly be engaging stakeholders along the way," McBride said.
SaskPower says a final decision on whether to move forward with nuclear power will be made in 2029.