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Province eyes potential nuclear options for coal power replacement in southeast Sask.
Published Friday, May 17, 2019 8:49AM CST
On the last day of spring session Thursday, the province said it’s considering two modular nuclear power plants to replace two of the province’s coal-fired power stations.
Although the government has plenty of work to do before that plan can become a reality, nuclear is being looked as an option to replace coal power in Estevan and Coronach.
This comes as a result of the federal government’s plan to phase out coal power in Canada by 2030 unless the power stations are retrofitted with costly carbon capture technology.
"We are beginning to have conversations with other provinces such as Ontario and New Brunswick on small modular reactors as that technology is beginning to come forward,” said Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe. “You know this is at a time where we need to have all of these conversations and is there potential for that type of power supply."
Modular technology is still under development, but the reactors are small and would supposedly shut down instead of melt down in the event of a serious incident – although the issue of nuclear waste remains.
“It's almost like kind of the last gasp of nuclear energy here because you know we haven't built a nuclear power plant in North America is probably for thirty forty years,” said Jim Elliot, a Regina environmentalist who says he’d prefer options like wind or solar. "In that location you are going to have a potential whole host of additional problems. You're right next to the border so you're talking about international stuff."
The premier’s proposal came as a surprise to the opposition.
"We're still watching how the technology develops on that,” said NDP leader Ryan Meili. “We always need to be looking at all of the options including any options that are low carbon. From what I am able to understand so far, that technology isn’t ready for this market."
With coal scheduled to be phased out in the next decade, modular technology could take longer than that to develop, meaning a seamless transition might not be possible.
Based on a report by CTV Regina’s Wayne Mantyka