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Saskatchewan

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Overview

The Government of Saskatchewan strongly believes in the ability for new technologies to address climate change and economic challenges facing communities across Canada. As exemplified in Saskatchewan’s climate change strategy, Prairie Resilience, advancement of technology and innovation will allow us to build upon our world-leading innovations and natural climate solutions to attain environmental and economic goals. The most compelling new technologies are those that allow us to advance simultaneously in these areas –resilience of our natural environment and economic stimulation and growth. Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) are an exciting opportunity to achieve these goals, and Saskatchewan is capable and prepared to play a key role in the development of SMRs across Canada and internationally. 

The next generation of SMRs are a way for Saskatchewan, along with other Canadian provinces and territories, to advance environmental goals while encouraging resilience and new economic growth. In Prairie Resilience, Saskatchewan committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector. The Government of Saskatchewan’s Growth Plan 2020-2030 further commits to reducing carbon emissions in electricity production by advancing SMRs using Saskatchewan uranium. Through our provincial utility, SaskPower, Saskatchewan has already made significant investments and advancement in reducing electricity emissions through development and installation of the world’s first major post-combustion carbon capture use and storage facility, which could be applied to reduce global electricity sector emissions or other high-carbon-emission sectors. In addition, SaskPower has set a target of doubling its percentage of electricity capacity from renewable energy sources, with the goal to generate up to 50 percent of our power from renewables by the year 2030. To maximize the benefits of renewable energy sources, Saskatchewan researchers at the Canadian Light Source national synchrotron facility have been working on cutting-edge energy storage technologies. Looking forward, incorporating SMR power into Saskatchewan’s energy mix could provide the province with the ability to generate up to 80 per cent of electricity through zero-emission sources.

As a reliable, safe, and non-greenhouse gas emitting source of electricity that can be economically competitive with alternative sources of generation, SMRs will build upon the province’s renewable energy goals by 2030 and beyond. SMRs represent a key technological advancement that will help Saskatchewan grow and prosper while contributing to Canada’s efforts to address climate change. Versatile and scalable SMRs represent a tremendous opportunity to provide baseload power that supports renewables, and expands Saskatchewan’s provincial economy by attracting investment, creating high-skilled jobs and contributing to economic growth.

SMR technology has several advantages. SMRs can be built independently, with new modules added as increased capacity is needed. They also have lower upfront capital costs compared to traditional nuclear energy plants, and can be used at remote sites, including in the far north, or by industry to support its operations. Saskatchewan is proud to be a world-class supplier of high-quality, sustainably produced uranium ore. Higher demand for uranium through the implementation of SMRs in Canada and abroad is an opportunity to harness our resources, contribute to economic and job growth, with particular benefit to Saskatchewan’s Northern region and Indigenous peoples, while contributing solutions to the global issue of climate change. Saskatchewan is also excited about new opportunities that could occur through the advancement of SMR technology, including unlocking the economic potential of the uranium value chain, expanding research and development capacity, and training, attracting and retaining high-skilled workers.

The Government of Saskatchewan knows that the best way to advance SMRs is by working together. To this end, Saskatchewan, along with the provinces of New Brunswick and Ontario signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to collaborate on the development and deployment of innovative, versatile and scalable SMRs. Saskatchewan looks forward to collaborating with other jurisdictions across Canada who share these same aspirations. The province of Alberta is expected to be the fourth province to sign the MOU to build on the momentum to explore the SMR opportunity. The Government of Canada continues to play a key role in increasing cooperation through Canada’s SMR Roadmap and Action Plan.

Introduction of a new, game-changing technology is always ambitious. The Government of Saskatchewan encourages sharing in the financial costs amongst jurisdictions in Canada to forge a path forward with the greatest chance of success. Saskatchewan is in support of the utilities’ request for additional funding or other financial tools from the Government of Canada, which will help in the development and deployment of SMRs in Saskatchewan. With the ongoing commitment of the federal government, jurisdictions across Canada, including Saskatchewan, will be poised to take advantage of this opportunity and help lead the next phase of SMRs and global nuclear development.

The time is now to seize the moment for SMRs. Saskatchewan is committed to exploring this new, cutting-edge technology to provide non-emitting, affordable, reliable, and safe energy, while helping unlock economic potential across Canada, including in rural, northern and remote regions.

ACTIONS

DEMONSTRATION AND DEPLOYMENT
Introduction of Small Modular Reactors in Saskatchewan
STATUS: IN PROGRESS
SK01

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

ACTION

Saskatchewan is currently working with other signatories to the SMR MOU to assess the feasibility and business case for implementation of this new technology. While this work is still underway, one outcome is already apparent – the most favourable pathway to SMR implementation is through collaboration and partnerships, leveraging existing knowledge and opportunities, and learning from initial developments.

Canada is fortunate to have jurisdictions that are already familiar with nuclear technology and have expertise in this area. These jurisdictions, in particular Ontario, are poised to be first movers on SMR deployment. By working together, and implementing the same technology, Saskatchewan can benefit from lessons learned and lower the risk of developing a new SMR program.

Also key to successful development and deployment of SMRs in Saskatchewan is financial support from the Government of Canada. Investment on the part of the federal government will help to mitigate risk and provide necessary assurance to the long-term success of initial SMR projects.

EXPECTED RESULTS

A fleet-based approach, in which Saskatchewan adopts the SMR technology successfully demonstrated in Ontario, will allow Saskatchewan to benefit from the lessons. The challenges to Saskatchewan’s newly formed SMR program will be lowered through collaboration with more mature provincial programs.

Federal investment in provincial programs will mitigate risk and allow each jurisdiction to confidently move forward with SMR implementation.

POLICY, LEGISLATION, AND REGULATION
MOU signed with Ontario, New Brunswick, Alberta
STATUS: COMPLETE
SK02

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 18

ACTION

Saskatchewan played a lead role in achieving the signing of an MOU between three provinces.

EXPECTED RESULTS

Development of SMR technologies supported and aligned across three interested provinces.

The three provinces will work together to assess available technologies and strategies for deployment.

MOU partners will engage with other provinces and territories interested in exploring the potential for SMR deployment in their jurisdictions.

POLICY, LEGISLATION, AND REGULATION
Climate change plan and government unit
STATUS: IN PROGRESS
SK03

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 18

ACTION

The Government of Saskatchewan released its overarching Prairie Resilienceclimate change strategy in December 2017, which outlined multiple commitments across five areas designed to make Saskatchewan more resilient to the climatic, economic and policy impacts of climate change. The new SMR Unit in the Ministry of Environment’s Climate Change Branch will support the coordination of executive government policy issues, such as economic growth, labour market development, post-secondary research and training interests, and fit within broader climate policy goals.

SMRs are featured in the Government of Saskatchewan’s Growth Plan 2020-2030 to play a pivotal role in reducing GHG emissions while helping build a strong economy, communities and families for the next decade and beyond.

The Sylvia Fedoruk Canadian Centre for Nuclear Innovation at the University of Saskatchewan places the province as a global leader in nuclear innovation, including in the areas of power generation and environmental stewardship.

EXPECTED RESULTS

Climate change and clean energy policies are aligned with, and support, the development of innovative, low-carbon nuclear energy technologies across all interested provinces and territories in Canada.

A comprehensive policy framework enabling deployment of SMRs in Saskatchewan by 2032.

POLICY, LEGISLATION, AND REGULATION
Creation of an enabling regulatory environment for Small Modular Reactors
STATUS: IN PROGRESS
SK04

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 10, 11, 12

ACTION

In addition to incorporation of SMRs within the electrical grid, a number of additional policy and program areas will need to be managed in order to develop a successful provincial SMR program.

On June 24, 2020, Saskatchewan announced plans to establish an office to coordinate SMR policy and programs.

The SMR Unit will be tasked with SMR policy coordination across government ministries, agencies, Crown corporations, and external partners. The SMR Unit will also collaborate with other jurisdictions in Canada.

The primary mandate of the SMR Unit is the development and execution of a strategic plan for implementation of SMRs. Close collaboration with Saskatchewan regulatory authorities will be necessary to ensure the appropriate regulatory regime and responsibilities in the province.

These regulations will ensure SMRs can be implemented in a safe and environmentally responsible fashion.

EXPECTED RESULTS

Through the establishment of a SMRs Unit within the Ministry of Environment, the Government of Saskatchewan will implement a comprehensive policy framework enabling deployment of SMRs.

CAPACITY, ENGAGEMENT, AND PUBLIC CONFIDENCE
Formation of a Small Modular Reactors unit
STATUS: IN PROGRESS
SK05

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 19, 20

ACTION

Beyond creation of a comprehensive policy framework, Saskatchewan’s SMR Unit will also look at additional program and policy areas that can enhance the overall nuclear opportunity. These include: financing, labour capacity and leveraging economic opportunities and growth.

A critical component of SMR implementation is public engagement. The SMR Unit will also act as the lead for engagement on Saskatchewan’s overall approach to SMRs. This engagement will encompass multiple parties, including industry, communities, Indigenous groups, labour organizations and educational institutions. Engagement will begin early, and ensure that Saskatchewan’s strategy for SMRs is responsive to the public while positioning the province to take full advantage of the opportunity.

EXPECTED RESULTS

Through activities of the SMRs Unit, Saskatchewan will promote:

  • Enhancement of the uranium value chain and maximization of uranium mining opportunities;
  • Development of a highly-skilled and specialized workforce; and
  • Trust and positive dialogue with stakeholders and Indigenous communities.
INTERNATIONAL PARTNERSHIPS AND MARKETS
Value Chain Optimization
STATUS: IN PROGRESS
SK06

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 14, 15, 34

ACTION

Saskatchewan is open to new opportunities that could occur through the advancement of SMR technology, including unlocking the economic potential of the uranium value chain, expanding research and development capacity, and training, attracting and retaining highly-skilled workers. At this stage Saskatchewan is encouraging uranium mining companies and electricity companies to explore this potential as well as raising awareness among provincial and territorial governments, including SMR MOU partners.

EXPECTED RESULTS

Saskatchewan is strategically positioned to optimize the uranium value chain in both the domestic and global market.