SaskPower, Ontario Power Generation and Laurentis Energy Partners announced a new agreement Monday morning for the development of small modular reactors. The agreement will see the companies coordinating industry supplies in Ontario and Saskatchewan for the support of SMRs throughout the country. The agreement will also see the companies working with post-secondary institutions on things such as applied research, as well as boosting skills capacity. 

“Our two provinces share a common vision of Canada’s energy future, and a core part of this vision is the role nuclear power can play,” Dustin Duncan, Minister Responsible for SaskPower said during the press conference to announce the deal. “Our ongoing collaboration with industry, utilities and other provinces and levels of government is an important path towards the potential deployment of SMRs in Saskatchewan.” 

Nuclear power is already a primary source of power generation in Ontario, where more than 50 percent of the baseload is created by nuclear facilities.  

“Fifty-two years ago, units one and two at Pickering came online, and since then the role of nuclear on Ontario’s grid has only grown, and it’s helped our province transition off of coal,” said Todd Smith, the Minister of Energy from Ontario. He was also present at the conference on Monday.  

The agreement is aimed at helping SaskPower tap into the experience Ontario Power Generation has as a licensed nuclear operator in Canada. This includes learning how to navigate the layers of regulation, as well as learning the best practices for the development of nuclear reactors to help provide baseload power in the province.  

Saskatchewan is working to introduce small modular reactors, with the process of selecting a site currently underway. Rupen Pandya, chief executive officer with SaskPower, provided an update on the process during the press conference, stating there have been consultations with communities in the two study regions – in the southeast, and near Lake Diefenbaker.  

“We hope to be in the position of having identified suitable sites within both study regions by early 2024, and then ultimately, we’ll need to identify a specific site for our application to CNSC as part of the Impact Assessment and Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission project description,” Pandya explained. 

The goal is for the first SMR, if the move is made to go in that direction, to be online and part of the grid by the mid-2030s. The provincial government has stated they will decide on whether they will proceed with small modular reactors in 2029.