Electric utility SaskPower will deploy GE-Hitachi BWRX-300 small modular reactor technology in Saskatchewan in the mid-2030s.
The utility selected the GE-Hitachi BWRX-300 SMR after a thorough assessment focused on safety, technology readiness, generation size, fuel type and anticipated electricity costs. The firm has evaluated the potential for a fleet-based deployment of nuclear power from SMRs since 2019.
The approach will offer advantages, like lower construction and operating costs and lower regulatory costs.
“We are excited that SaskPower has chosen our technology as it looks to SMRs for the generation of carbon-free electricity,” said Jay Wileman, President & CEO, GEH. “We believe the BWRX-300 is an ideal solution for SaskPower and customers that want to make an impact on climate change and energy security in a meaningful timeframe. Decades of design and licensing experience coupled with our proven and existing fuel supply chain position the BWRX-300 as the leading SMR solution.”
The firm will make a decision on building an SMR only in 2029 but several years of project development, licensing and regulatory work will have to be undertaken to maintain nuclear power from SMRs. At present, the utility is conducting a detailed technical evaluation of the potential regions where SMRs can be hosted. It is expected that the suitable regions will be identified this year.
The move is expected to contribute to SaskPower’s aim to achieve net zero GHG emissions by 2050. It is already on track to reduce GHG emissions by 50% by 2030 from the 2005 level. Some of the efforts that SaskPower is taking to achieve this goal include expanding wind and solar, strengthening electrical interconnections with neighbouring jurisdictions and leveraging nuclear power, geothermal power and biomass.
“Today marks the beginning of an exciting relationship between SaskPower and GE-Hitachi, a leader in the nuclear energy field that has the potential to benefit SaskPower and Saskatchewan for many decades to come,” said Interim President and CEO at SaskPower, Troy King. “We are committed to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions while providing safe, reliable, and sustainable power for our customers, and GE-Hitachi’s SMR technology could play a powerful role in this future.”
Companies like GEH, NuScale Power, X-energy and Last Energy are working on SMR technologies.
The BWRX-300 is a 300 MWe water-cooled, natural circulation Small Modular Reactor (SMR) with passive safety systems that leverages the design and licensing basis of GEH's U.S. NRC-certified ESBWR.