CALGARY – The pressing global need to slash emissions in the face of a growing climate crisis is driving renewed interest in nuclear power — and few places more so than in Canada’s oilsands.
While the idea of using nuclear power to replace the fossil fuels burned in oilsands production has been bandied about for years, some experts say the reality could be just a decade or so away. On paper, at least, there is more potential to deploy small modular reactor (SMR) technology in the oilsands region of Alberta than anywhere else in the country.
“Without a doubt the oilsands is the biggest market for small modular reactors in Canada,” said John Gorman, president and chief executive of the Canadian Nuclear Association. “It’s something that some companies are very actively looking at.”
Small modular reactors are a type of nuclear design that is far smaller than a traditional nuclear reactor. Generating between 10 and 300 MW of energy, SMRs are fully scalable and are designed to be built economically in factory conditions, rather than on site like a large-scale conventional reactor.