The provincial government of Alberta has announced a $7 million investment in a study conducted by Cenovus Energy, an oil and gas producer, to explore the potential use of small modular reactors (SMRs) in oilsands operations. The funding will come from the province’s Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction (TIER) fund and aims to support innovation in emissions reduction.
SMRs are nuclear reactors with a smaller generating capacity than traditional ones, designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. They could potentially be used to generate non-emitting heat and power in the oilsands industry, replacing the current steam generators that are major sources of emissions.
The study will focus on how SMRs can be integrated into the operations of Cenovus Energy. It is part of a four-year series of studies with a total cost of $26.7 million. The aim is to better understand the costs, efficiency, and regulatory framework required for the adoption of SMRs in the oilsands sector.
While the potential for SMRs in emissions reduction is promising, there are still unknowns about their costs and overall efficiencies. Warren Mabee, director of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Policy at Queen’s University, emphasizes the need for more research and investment in the technology to fully understand its potential impact.
The study is expected to contribute to the ongoing discussions around emissions reduction in Alberta and the development of a regulatory framework that would facilitate the adoption of SMRs in the future. However, environmental groups such as Greenpeace Canada argue that the investment in SMRs is a “delay tactic” by the oil and gas industry, diverting resources away from immediate solutions like renewable energy.
– CBC News: “Alberta investing $7M into study on how small modular reactors can be used in oilsands”
– International Atomic Energy Agency: “Small Modular Reactors”