Sask. government criticized over exploration of SMR technology
Saskatchewan Green Party Leader Naomi Hunter accused the government of “kicking the climate crisis down the road,” by exploring small modular reactor (SMR) technology in a press conference Monday.
Hunter was present for a Monday morning event in front of the legislature, where she called on the provincial government to scrap its bid to explore SMR technology.
“We do not have the time for fairy tales that take us far into the future,” she said. “We don’t have 10 years to come up with a solution. (Premier) Scott Moe and the Sask. Party, they’re just kicking the climate crisis down the road like they always do.”
Hunter argued that the government’s move towards nuclear energy is not aiding the fight against climate change.
“They claim that this is because they suddenly care about the climate crisis and are looking for solutions,” she said. “If that was the case, we would be installing immediate solutions of green energy: solar, wind, geothermal.”
“This province has the best solar gain in all of Canada and we have some of the best opportunities for wind energy.”
Don Morgan, minister responsible for SaskPower, responded to the criticism with an assurance that SMRs were being explored alongside other ongoing developments in renewable energy.
“We think it’s appropriate to have a careful look at it, we need to maintain baseload power in our province,” he explained. “The only way to get baseload power is from things like hydro, coal, or natural gas and I understand and appreciate their desire to have wind and solar and we’ve also done a lot of that.”
Between the Golden South Wind Facility, located near Assiniboia, and the Blue Hill Wind Facility near Herbert, SaskPower has added 375 megawatts of emissions free power to the provincial grid.
The province plans to add 100 more megawatts of renewable energy once a vendor is found to build what will be the province’s largest solar plant near Estevan. The competition to select a vendor is set to run in the coming weeks.
“We certainly want to have a blend as we go forward,” said Morgan, referring to the multiple forms of power generation.
Amita Kuttner, the interim leader of the Green Party of Canada, also attended the event in front of the legislature, and criticized the proposed move to SMR technology as the wrong approach.
“What you are trading it for is again corporate power,” they explained. “Which is not solving the underlying causes of the climate emergency.”
Saskatchewan is currently in a partnership with British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario to collaborate on the advancement of SMR technology. According to Morgan, cost and safety are top of mind as the program is explored further.
“There’s a number of things that are underway; selection of a potential vendor, site selection, and then duty to consult with First Nations partners and public engagement as well,” he said.
“Our goal is to have good, strong, reliable base-load power and SMRs are certainty something that we would want to consider. But consider very carefully, and with a lot of consultation and careful analysis.”