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New Brunswick

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Overview

The Government of New Brunswick chapter is respectfully submitted from the Department of Natural Resources and Energy Development (DNRED) – Energy Branch as the policy group responsible for regulating the Energy sector in New Brunswick through legislation, regulation and other policy instruments. The chapter also includes input from Opportunities New Brunswick (ONB), the crown agency with the mandate to foster economic development and job creation in the Province.

The Minister of the DNRED is the Minister responsible for New Brunswick Power Corporation (NB Power). NB Power is a vertically integrated electric utility, established in the Electricity Act as a crown corporation. NB Power is required to maintain safe, reliable and low-cost electricity service to New Brunswick homes and businesses. DNRED, and particularly the Energy branch, does not have a budget or mandate to pursue economic development directly, but is an enabler as the policy branch responsible for this sector. ONB is the Crown Agency with a mandate to foster economic activity, and job creation.

In addition to the Government of New Brunswick’s (GNB) participation in the development of the Small Modular Reactor (SMR) Roadmap released in 2018, GNB invested $10 million to establish the Advanced Nuclear Research Centre to progress the research and design of two Advanced Generation IV SMR designs. This initial funding was matched by two technology vendors: ARC Nuclear Canada and Moltex Energy, who subsequently opened offices in Saint John, to progress the research and design activities necessary to get their designs through the appropriate regulatory processes.

Since the initial investment in 2018, the Province has been working closely with NB Power, and the vendors to progress the designs through the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission’s voluntary Vendor Design Review process. Many activities are underway related to research and design, in collaboration with the Centre for Nuclear Energy Research (CNER) at the University of New Brunswick, and Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL). The approach has the benfit of leveraging existing capacities and expertise, identifying areas where capacities are needed, and seeking solutions to build capacities and fill these gaps. GNB, and NB Power are continuing to oversee vendor progress throughout the due-diligence process to unlock the economic potential of these new technologies. New Brunswick’s goal is to be a global leader in Advanced SMRs.

Carbon free emissions sources are needed for future domestic and international energy needs. NB has invested in technologies that aim to do this and address historical challenges with available nuclear power, namely: reducing the long-term waste inventory, support variable output renewable generation, and electric system stability, and reliability.

Beginning in 2020, 40% of the electricity sold to in-province customers by NB Power is required to come from renewable sources. In 2019/20, NB Power was able to exceed this regulated 40% target by 4%. Coupling this with the output from the 660MW CANDU-6 baseload operated reactor at Point Lepreau, 80% of in-province electrical energy consumption was supplied from clean energy sources. In province renewable energy and nuclear power generation have avoided over 6 Mt of GHG emissions from the electricity sector in New Brunswick per year.

GNB continues to make progress on the actions identified in the 2016 Climate Change Action Plan and is actively participating in the development of the Atlantic Clean Power Plan. Both plans are supportive of achieving further carbon emissions reductions of the electricity sector. As we continue to decarbonize, we need to maintain affordable access to energy, and a stable and reliable bulk electric system. Most New Brunswick homes and businesses rely on electric resistance heating and with limited access to natural gas, carbon free sources of flexible electricity generation will be needed. This need is compounded when considering the general increased focus on electrification. While the cost of developing wind and solar energy sources has declined, and electric storage technologies have improved, storage and renewables alone are not likely to be enough. We must maintain cost effective service for customers, particularly in the winter months while taking into consideration land use and life cycle environmental impacts the energy sources we will be dependent upon, will have on future generations.

The benefits associated with the successful construction of two demonstration units at Point Lepreau include 11,000 jobs, $1 billion provincial GDP, and $120 million in Provincial Government revenue. We are prepared to continue to support these efforts by leveraging our existing infrastructure, regional supply chain, academic institutions, and agility as a government to seek to successfully develop these technologies.

New Brunswick’s existing supply chain is currently able to take advantage of these opportunities and is prepared to service a majority of the SMR commercialization and development components as it continues to develop. Another portion of the local supply chain is actively engaged and is preparing to pivot to service the industry. This helps to ensure that a quality New Brunswick product plays a key role in Canada’s low-carbon transition. The economic benefit from these developments is realized, not just through the technology vendors themselves, but from the external infrastructure required to support them.

The export of SMR technology and services to other regions of the world represents a significant opportunity for New Brunswick and Canada alike. GNB will continue to collaborate with our respective vendors, communities, Indigenous Nations and stakeholders to assist in the development and commercialization of advanced nuclear technologies, and to capitalize on direct and indirect economic benefits as a result.

In December of 2019, the Premiers of New Brunswick, Ontario and Saskatchewan signed a joint Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The MOU requires the provinces to work together with the CEO’s of the respective electric utilities to explore the latest technology in nuclear power generation to provide carbon-free, affordable, reliable and safe energy, while unlocking economic potential across Canada. Work is on-going on the deliverables of the MOU which include a feasibility study (expected November 2020), and a strategic plan for SMR deployment (expected winter 2021).

GNB fully supports the principles outlined in the SMR Action Plan and is committed to continuing to deliver and progress the following actions, identified in the SMR Roadmap. GNB’s early action and continued support for the development of Advanced SMRs in NB and Canada, is a demonstration of the need for future low-emissions sources and transitioning towards a low-carbon economy.

ACTIONS

DEMONSTRATION AND DEPLOYMENT
Demonstration and Deployment – SMR Demonstration Projects
STATUS: IN PROGRESS
NB01

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 16

ACTION

GNB is working with Federal Departments to demonstrate the need for Federal support for the development of our advanced nuclear technologies. To complement, GNB, along with the Atlantic Clean Energy Alliance, have given multiple demonstrations to highlight the importance of this initiative to provincial and municipal stakeholders.

EXPECTED RESULTS

Support Advanced Generation IV SMR R&D activities, and expanded due diligence in partnerships with Academia, Canadian labs, and industry. Building on existing strengths, and expanding capabilities where needed.

DEMONSTRATION AND DEPLOYMENT
Investment in Advanced SMR development in New Brunswick
STATUS: IN PROGRESS
NB02

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

ACTION

In 2018, GNB invested $10 million to establish the Advanced Nuclear Research Centre to progress the research and design of two Advanced Generation IV SMR designs. This initial funding was matched by two technology vendors: ARC Nuclear Canada and Moltex Energy.

EXPECTED RESULTS

ARC and Moltex have established offices and staffed up in Saint John, NB. The vendors are progressing through the CNSC’s VDR process. The initial investment is now fully allocated and access to funding is needed to progress R&D activities.

POLICY, LEGISLATION, AND REGULATION
Clean Energy messaging (Role of Renewables and Nuclear in the decarbonized grid)
STATUS: COMPLETE
NB03

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 18

ACTION

While the regulatory requirement for NB power to serve 40% of in-province sales from renewable energy sources does not speak to clean energy, public messaging around the progress on the target now includes percentage of sales from clean energy sources, including nuclear.

EXPECTED RESULTS

Greater understanding of the role traditional nuclear has played, and continues to play, and why a cost-effective decarbonized future should not limit potential options, particularly options that could result in significant economic benefits, and reduced long-term waste inventory.

CAPACITY, ENGAGEMENT, AND PUBLIC CONFIDENCE
Demonstration and Deployment - Indigenous Engagement
STATUS: IN PROGRESS
NB04

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 19

ACTION

The Department of Natural Resources and Energy Development has begun engaging the provincial Department of Aboriginal Affairs, and the Women’s Equality Branch of the Executive Council Office.

EXPECTED RESULTS

Building and strengthening positive relationships with Indigenous groups and position the SMR workforce to continue to be inclusive of women, youth, minorities and Indigenous peoples. Align the development of the NB Advanced SMR workforce with the goals of ensuring gender diversity and inclusion and implementing a gender diversity and intersectional lens into planning and reporting.

CAPACITY, ENGAGEMENT, AND PUBLIC CONFIDENCE
Supply Chain and Deployment Readiness
STATUS: IN PROGRESS
NB05

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 20

ACTION

The province and the vendors have actively engaged with the existing supply-chain to gauge their level of readiness and capabilities to service and support SMR development and commercialization in the province, and to fill any present gaps wherein our supply-chain could pivot or upgrade their infrastructure to support specifics within the required value-chain.

Interprovincial MOU with New Brunswick, Ontario and Saskatchewan.

EXPECTED RESULTS

The Atlantic Clean Energy Alliance will work with the value-chain to ensure companies are able to service SMR development, and to bridge gaps wherein skills transfer can enable specific vendors to support the value-chain in the future.

Studies completed to inform public and policy makers on the feasibility of SMR’s, and deployment strategies.

  • A feasibility study is expected in November 2020, and
  • A deployment strategy currently expected in winter 2021.
CAPACITY, ENGAGEMENT, AND PUBLIC CONFIDENCE
Nuclear content in grade schools and post-secondary education training and labour
STATUS: UPCOMING
NB06

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 21

ACTION

GNB is looking to expand existing partnerships to facilitate greater integration of nuclear power into grade school and high school curriculum.

Planned work includes working with government departments, non-profit organizations, and industry to develop nuclear power content that could be used in grade and high school curriculum development.

Explore opportunities for including Nuclear curriculum, and information in existing STEM initiatives, (e.g. Brilliant Labs Programs, and Let’s Talk Science outreach programs from UNB.)

Formalize inclusive hiring requirements when Government funding is provided.

EXPECTED RESULTS

Greater interest and understanding of Nuclear power leading to the retention of New Brunswick graduates to contribute towards a highly skilled sector and increased retention of workforce.

Through the variety of provincial partnerships established with the Future NB and Future Wabanaki movement, GNB will continue to collaborate with employers, students, and Indigenous Nations to strengthen and develop experiential learning opportunities in the development of Advanced SMRs, leading to greater retention of an informed, experienced, and engaged young work force.