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Alberta

Government of AlbertaGovernment of Alberta

Overview

The Ministry of Energy of Alberta represents the interests of Albertans as the owners of oil and gas resources in the province, and contributes to sustained prosperity through responsible resource development and the stewardship of energy and mineral resource systems. The Ministry of Energy of Alberta manages Alberta’s energy resources to ensure they are developed in responsible ways that benefit and bring value to Albertans. The ministry strives to ensure sustained prosperity in the interests of Albertans through the stewardship of energy and mineral resources. The ministry also oversees a reliable and affordable electricity system for Albertans, and encourages additional investment that creates jobs and economic prosperity. Sustained prosperity includes having regard for the social, economic and environmental impacts of Alberta’s energy development.

The ministry consists of the Department of Energy (i.e. Alberta Energy), the Alberta Energy Regulator, the Alberta Utilities Commission, the Alberta Petroleum Marketing Commission, the Post-closure Stewardship Fund and the Balancing Pool. Each entity plays an important role in overseeing the orderly development of Alberta’s energy resources. Alberta has a unique energy-only electricity market designed to encourage efficiencies through competition in the electricity generation sector. Electricity generation in the province is developed and financed entirely by private investors. These private investors receive their basic revenue from the sale of electricity through a real-time energy market with fluctuating electricity rates. Therefore, the size, fuel source, and location of new generation facilities in Alberta is determined by private investors that base their decisions on a variety of factors, including the cost and performance of different technologies.

Similarly, Alberta’s energy and mining sectors are driven by private investments and private business decisions. While Alberta strives towards establishing a competitive and robust policy and regulatory framework to facilitate responsible and efficient energy and mineral development, as well as to attract investment, energy and mining companies are the center of the decision making in terms of business decisions, including when and where to develop the resources and what technologies are deployed to support the development.

As the largest research and innovation agency in Alberta, Alberta Innovates works with a range of sectors and industry. This scope allows Alberta Innovates to have a unique role in the research and innovation system with a wide-angle lens to identify opportunities, challenges and gaps where research and innovation is of value. Investments, connections, platforms and expertise are leveraged by the organization to stimulate effective ways of solving current and future challenges. Clients are guided through the innovation system and existing cross-sectoral research and innovation partnerships and collaborations are used to connect clients with the right resources. This helps propel great ideas forward faster while gathering important market-driven evidence. As a convener, Alberta Innovates brings together research and innovation players to reduce barriers and increase the adoption and spread of innovations. Programs and activities are aligned with corporate goals, strategic priorities and areas of focus as well as the priorities of the Alberta government. By taking a multi-pronged approach through investments, connections, technical expertise and applied research services, Alberta Innovates supports the innovation agenda and creates pathways that help accelerate research and innovation to market and everyday consumers. Alberta Innovates also believes the Research and Innovation ecosystem is stronger and more sustainable when it is broadly reflective of the overall diversity of our community and therefore embraces the principles of Equity, Diversity and Inclusivity.

The Alberta government understands that research and development for innovative technologies such as SMRs is crucial to both growing the economy and improving environmental performance, and therefore, endorses the SMR Action Plan Statement of Principles. It is important for the Alberta government to be engaged with the federal, provincial, and territorial governments in Canada, along with other key nuclear stakeholders in the development of SMR technology to ensure our province has an appropriate understanding of the technology to enable ongoing generation and industrial development by the private industry in Alberta. As such, on August 7, 2020, the Alberta Government signalled the intent for Alberta to enter into a memorandum of understanding with Ontario, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick to support the development and deployment of SMRs.

Actions

DEMONSTRATION AND DEPLOYMENT
Connection of SMRs to the Alberta Innovates Strategic Priorities
STATUS: IN PROGRESS
ALB01

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 18

ACTION

Global climate change and a political and social imperative to respond to this challenge presents a growth opportunity for clean tech solutions like SMRs. Alberta can leverage its existing, highly-skilled technical workforce and leadership role in clean technology innovation to attract investment and create jobs in the province.

Alberta Innovates has a strategic priority to develop emerging technologies, with a focus in areas such as:

  • Data-Enabled Innovation;
  • Digital Technology for Business Transformation;
  • Clean Technology; and
  • Innovative Production and Distribution.

Alberta Innovates’ supports innovation and drives investment into these focus areas. It is the connection through Clean Technology that SMR activities can be highlighted and supported through Alberta Innovates programming.

EXPECTED RESULTS

SMRs are well-positioned to play a role in Alberta’s innovation portfolio with the focus on Clean Technology as one of Alberta Innovates’ four core technology priority areas. By supporting innovation in key priority areas, Alberta can leverage its existing strengths to advance SMRs for development and deployment in Canada.

DEMONSTRATION AND DEPLOYMENT
Support for SMR Technology or Knowledge Development Initiatives
STATUS: IN PROGRESS
ALB02

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 16, 17

ACTION

The Alberta Innovates Clean Technology Program supports projects that advance low-carbon electricity generation technologies as part of its priority focus area in renewable and alternative generation. This focus area can include initiatives that involve SMR technologies.

Projects that are aligned with the program focus areas and contribute to the 2030 Innovation Targets are prioritized for funding and support. Projects seeking funding from Alberta Innovates must demonstrate a clear and justified value proposition in Alberta.

Technology solutions can originate from anywhere globally but must address challenges and opportunities of importance to Alberta. Projects that will be researched, piloted, demonstrated, and/or implemented in Alberta with long term Alberta-based infrastructure/resources will be prioritized. Project funding can be up to and typically does not exceed $2 million per project and can support 25 to 50% of total project costs, with remaining funding from other project partners and other funding agencies (including cash and in-kind support).

EXPECTED RESULTS

The 2030 Innovation Targets are intended to inspire transformational solutions in the following areas of importance:

  • Emerging technologies;
  • Energy and greenhouse gas mitigation;
  • Environment and climate adaptation; and
  • Agriculture, food and fibre production.

Initiatives that further low-carbon electricity solutions in the province are welcome to apply for funding through the Clean Technology program. Projects that advance SMR deployment for Alberta applications, or utilize Alberta’s strengths in manufacturing, operations and industrial services for the advancement of SMR technologies, would be well-aligned with the Clean Technology program’s focus in Renewable and Alternative Electricity Generation.

DEMONSTRATION AND DEPLOYMENT
Contributions to Knowledge
STATUS: COMPLETE
ALB03

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 16, 17, 18

ACTION

Alberta Innovates funded studies in 2016 and 2018 in collaboration with COSIA and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory focused on the current status of SMR technologies and feasibility for application in Alberta’s oil sands. These studies assessed the techno-economic feasibility of SMRs using well-understood reference facilities for in situ steam-assisted gravity drainage operations, surface mining operations and bitumen partial upgrading facilities.

The reports highlight key considerations that should be taken into account when evaluating the most promising technology pathways and prior to making decisions on which technologies to advance in Canada.

EXPECTED RESULTS

The reports identify that SMR technologies are capable of providing the electricity, process steam, high temperature steam, and hydrogen requirements of oil sands facilities, including surface mining, steam-assisted gravity drainage and bitumen upgrading operations. SMRs could potentially play a role in providing competitively-priced, environmentally-acceptable, and dependable/reliable heat, power, and hydrogen for oil sands operations.

These studies are publicly available and can be contributed to further the discussion about the deployment of SMRs in Alberta applications.

POLICY, LEGISLATION, AND REGULATION
Mineral Development
STATUS: IN PROGRESS
ALB04

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 18

ACTION

Alberta has the opportunity to capitalize on its vast mineral resource potential, including uranium and other critical minerals. The Government of Alberta launched Alberta’s Recovery Plan in June 2020, a plan to address both short-term and long-term challenges facing our province and set Alberta on a path for economic growth, diversification and renewal for the future. As part of Alberta’s Recovery Plan, Alberta will focus on sector strategies for diversifying the economy, including a minerals strategy. Alberta has significant geological potential for many non-energy minerals, including uranium, lithium, vanadium, and rare earth elements. Research by the Alberta Geological Survey and initial exploration by Alberta companies have identified uranium prospects across the province, particularly in northeast and southern Alberta, which may have the potential to contribute to the uranium supply chain, a feedstock needed for SMR development and deployment.

EXPECTED RESULTS

The minerals strategy will help position Alberta as a destination of choice for mineral investment, exploration, and development and create a competitive and attractive environment for responsible mineral development including uranium, a potential feedstock for SMRs.

POLICY, LEGISLATION, AND REGULATION
Memorandum of Understanding for SMRs
STATUS: IN PROGRESS
ALB05

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 18

ACTION

Alberta to join the Memorandum of Understanding between New Brunswick, Ontario, and Saskatchewan that supports SMR development and deployment.

EXPECTED RESULTS

Alberta will work collaboratively with New Brunswick, Ontario, and Saskatchewan on various commitments listed in the Memorandum of Understanding to advance the development and deployment of SMRs.

CAPACITY, ENGAGEMENT, AND PUBLIC CONFIDENCE
Partnership Connector and Diverse Capacity Building
STATUS: IN PROGRESS
ALB06

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 19

ACTION

The Alberta government will help connect the federal government with Indigenous communities, private investors, and other interested stakeholders in the province for the federal engagement sessions. Alberta Innovates is also a convenor of stakeholders in the innovation ecosystem. Promoting social and economic opportunities for Indigenous Peoples is a priority.

The Alberta government is also taking steps to support women in the workforce and entrepreneurship so they can provide for their families and contribute to Alberta’s economy. The Alberta government is committed to finding ways to eliminate barriers for women of all backgrounds to enable them to succeed in the workforce. Work is currently underway on ensuring that women are represented and working across a wide range of industries.

EXPECTED RESULTS

A more holistic collection of stakeholder views and diverse capacity building leading to better informed government decisions about SMR opportunities.