Saskatchewan Research Council, the second largest research unit in Canada, received a C$80 million grant to build an experimental microreactor in partnership with the leading nuclear energy firm Westinghouse Electric Co. owned by Cameco Corporation (TSX: CCO) (NYSE: CCJ) and Brookfield Business Partners LP (NYSE: BBU) (TSX: BBUC).
On Monday, Saskatchewan´s Premier Scott Moe announced the funding for the research agency to build an eVinci microreactor in the province. The research council will gain an in-depth understanding of the reactor to to explore industrial, research and energy use applications.
“This project has the opportunity to be transformative for our economy, industry and communities,” Moe said. “Microreactors provide a custom solution for Saskatchewan’s unique energy needs.”
Last year, Westinghouse and SRC signed a memorandum to develop the project in Saskatchewan
“Our vision is to see the first eVinci microreactor in an industrial application and lay the groundwork for many more projects in the future,” President and CEO of SRC Mike Crabtree said. “What we learn through this project will prepare SRC to assist communities and industries in future projects.”
Minister Jeremy Harrison, who oversees the research agency said the microreactor will open the door for future deployments in the province, which will create jobs and strengthen the province´s economy.
The eVinci reactor provides carbon-free electricity and heat, uses no water and can be completely removed from the site after operating continuously for eight years or more. Its location will be determined as the project progresses through the regulatory processes. The surrounding infrastructure is less than two-thirds the size of a hockey rink.
eVinci microreactor works as a battery with very few moving parts
The microreactor can produce 5 megawatts of electricity, over 13 megawatts of high-temperature heat, or operate in combined heat and power mode. The eVinci microreactor works essentially as a battery and has very few moving parts. This provides versatility for power systems ranging from several kilowatts to 5 megawatts of electricity, delivered 24/7 for 8 or more years without refuelling.
It can also produce high-temperature heat suitable for industrial applications including alternative fuel production such as hydrogen, and has the flexibility to balance renewable output. The microreactor is built and assembled in a factory before it is shipped in a container to any location.
Over the past years, there has been a notable surge in investment directed towards nuclear energy within the province.
Crucial developments unfolded last week when SaskPower, the province’s primary electricity provider, revealed a groundbreaking collaboration with Ontario Power Generation. Together, they announced plans to construct the province’s inaugural small modular reactor (SMR), marking a significant stride in advancing clean and efficient energy solutions.
The Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources contributed to this momentum in August by disclosing a substantial C$74 million in funding. This financial support aims to expedite the implementation of SMRs. Previously to this, the provinces of Saskatchewan and New Brunswick solidified their dedication to SMR development by signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in April.
The preceding year witnessed the Canadian government’s endorsement of Westinghouse, as the nuclear experts were awarded a C$27.2 million grant from Canada´s Strategic Innovation Fund.
Considering its position as one of the provinces rich with uranium resources, operators in this region are understandably witnessing a significant rise in investments in nuclear technologies. The Athabasca Basin in Northern Saskatchewan holds one of the largest uranium reserves on the planet. The commodity has recently seen an increase in demand that is set to continue in the next years as more countries push for carbon-free technologies.
Key uranium mining firms expanding their operations in the region include Cameco, NexGen Energy Ltd. (TSX: NXE) (NYSE: NXE), ATHA Energy Corp. (CSE: SASK) (OTCQB: SASKF) and Uranium Energy Corporation (NYSE American: UEC).
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