Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Government of Alberta to collaborate on the deployment of small modular reactor (SMR) technology - including the Korean-designed SMART reactor - in the Canadian province.

KAERI President Joo Han-Gyu signing the MoU with Alberta (Image: KAERI)

The MoU was signed on 19 April by KAERI President Joo Han-Gyu, Alberta Minister of Jobs, Economy and Northern Development Brian Jean and Alberta Minister of Trade, Immigration and Multiculturalism Rajan Sawhney.

KAERI said that since Alberta took an "ambitious initiative" to deploy SMR technology along with other Canadian provinces, KAERI and Alberta have discussed clean energy cooperation based on KAERI's SMR technology, particularly the SMART (System-integrated Modular Advanced Reactor).

"This mutual cooperation agreement was promoted to discuss the issue of applying SMART technology with almost no carbon emissions to supply necessary steam to oil sands (tar sands) mining areas in Alberta," KAERI said. "Based on this agreement, the two sides plan to share in advance the information necessary to confirm the feasibility of SMART construction and further obtain licences.

"Korean companies, including Hyundai Engineering, have already been promoting projects that utilise SMART technologies for Alberta oil sand mining. This mutual cooperation agreement is expected to promote the activities of these companies."

The signing of the MoU followed a visit by the Canadian ministers on 28 February to KAERI to discuss ways of supplying high-temperature and high-pressure steam for oil sand mining through the use of the SMART reactor. They also visited KAERI's research facilities, including the SMART-ITL and SMART-MCR simulators.

Commenting on the MoU, Joo said: "It is time to translate the net-zero emission commitment into actions, and SMR technology is crucial in carbon reduction actions. A deployment of SMART in Alberta will be the pioneer in the battle against climate change."

Jean added: "Alberta is a global leader in providing safe, clean and reliable energy that helps power the world. The Government of Alberta is open to exploring all technologies, including SMRs, to help energy production thrive in a low-carbon future. Through this agreement with KAERI, we are continuing to explore deploying SMR technology and strengthening Alberta's position as a world-leading responsible energy producer for years to come."

"I am proud of the agreement we are making as a result of our trade mission to Korea, and am excited about the potential for SMR technologies, such as KAERI," Sawhney said. "This is yet another example of continued global interest in Alberta and the diverse opportunities that Alberta offers."

SMART is a 330 MWt pressurised water reactor with integral steam generators and advanced safety features. The unit is designed for electricity generation (up to 100 MWe) as well as thermal applications, such as seawater desalination, with a 60-year design life and three-year refuelling cycle.

While the basic design is complete, development had been stalled by the absence of any orders for an initial reference unit. Developed by KAERI, SMART received standard design approval from the Korean regulator in mid-2012. KAERI had planned to build a demonstration plant to operate from 2017.

Alberta has been considered in the past as a possible location for large-scale nuclear power plants, but a 1000 MWe electricity generation plant proposed for the north of the province was shelved in 2011. The province's interest in SMRs is centred on their potential as an economically attractive and carbon-free source of steam and process heat to support extractive industries including the production of natural gas from the province's extensive oil sands deposits.

Alberta is one of four Canadian provinces - the others are New Brunswick, Ontario and Saskatchewan - that have agreed to a joint strategic plan outlining their strong support for the path forward on SMRs.

Invest Alberta - a Crown corporation of the Government of Alberta - last month signed an MoU with ARC Clean Technology Canada Inc to jointly pursue activities to support commercialisation of ARC's ARC-100 SMR technology in the province. That followed the signing of an MoU in January with X-Energy Canada to develop economic opportunities supporting the potential deployment of the Xe-100 SMR. It has also supported SMR developer Terrestrial Energy in its efforts to expand its operations into Alberta.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News

Date: Friday, 21 April 2023
Original article: world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/MoU-sees-KAERI,-Alberta-cooperation-on-SMRs