ASET Technology Alberta Winter 2023 - 19

feature
" IF YOU THINK ABOUT nuclear power
plants in general, if let's say the province
of BC were to decide they are going to
build a nuclear reactor right here, it will
take about 15 to 20 years before the first
unit of electricity actually flows up. And
this is from a reactor design that has
been licensed and constructed, "
Ramana says.
" It just takes that long to construct a nuclear plant. The
average construction time for a nuclear reactor anywhere
around the world is close to 10 years. And you need to
spend a substantial amount of time before that getting the
environmental permits, [and] finding a community that is
willing to deal with the risk of living near a nuclear plant. "
Ramana adds the delay will be even greater with a novel
and relatively untested solution like SMRs. " We are really
talking about untested designs here, and that's going to add
even more time. So, realistically speaking, even if everything
goes optimistically the earliest that any of these reactors
can contribute in a meaningful way will be in 2040. And
that's an optimistic estimate, " he says.
" I don't think they are very fast in terms of small modular
reactors. I think there's a lot of talk, but they have not started
building one anyways. "
Back in July of this year, Minister Jean confirmed this, emphasizing
the need not to rush on a power like nuclear. With
no clear window for construction time, that means the stated
aim of SMRs for decarbonization likely won't get started
for awhile. That complicates things, given the need to reduce
our emissions sooner rather than later.
" They won't be ready or developed or in the ground or
operating or training soon enough to produce any sort of
emissions reductions to meaningfully contribute to those
timelines, " says Halvorson. " It's not a deadline that we can
break for ourselves. Every year we go on not meeting our
emissions reductions means a worse climate scenario for
us all to live in. "
The Ministry of Energy and Minerals did not give specific
timeline goals in its response, but did provide information
on their next steps.
" The plan commits the Alberta Utilities Commission and Alberta
Energy Regulator to deliver findings on areas of overlap,
uncertainty and duplication between the federal and
provincial regulatory systems to Alberta's government in fall
2023, " according to the response. Following that, the Ministry
of Energy and Minerals will lead in an Alberta government
regulatory review of the province's nuclear framework.
The government will then study the implementation of SMRs
being tested across the country.
NUCLEAR POWER is not a magic bullet,
at least not yet. Despite the intriguing
new forms it's taking, we're still an
unfathomable distance from the atomic
utopia Fallout envisions. Neither is it a
road to disaster, given the right approach.
Meintzer says that once long-standing questions over red
flags receive satisfying resolutions, nuclear could plausibly
see various power generation uses. " If nuclear energy is
pursued, again giving everyday people power in a way that's
less harmful, [with a] lower emissions footprint ... that's
probably good. "
For now, small nuclear reactors seem to be more an aspiration
than a reality. While they wait on the shelf, we can
fantasize, revolutionize and dread.
In the meantime, we
can use the tools that are ready today, so that we're prepared
for tomorrow.
TECHNOLOGY ALBERTA | WINTER 2023 | 19
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/premier-wants-alberta-energy-minister-to-incentivize-development-of-small-modular-reactors-1.6904022 https://www.iea.org/news/renewable-electricity-growth-is-accelerating-faster-than-ever-worldwide-supporting-the-emergence-of-the-new-global-energy-economy

ASET Technology Alberta Winter 2023

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ASET Technology Alberta Winter 2023 - Cover
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ASET Technology Alberta Winter 2023 - Cover2
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