Energy Alberta is searching for communities to host the province's largest power station, which would provide emission-free power for oil sands projects. The company plans to build a C$6.2 billion ($5.6 billion) 2200 MWe twin Candu reactor plant in northern Alberta, and is looking at the town of Whitecourt and other Alberta communities as potential hosts.
Canada has huge reserves of oil sands - gritty mixtures of bitumen which contain useful oil. Extracting it requires huge amounts of heat and steam. The costs of natural gas can account for up to 60% of operating costs at an oil sands facility, and the associated greenhouse gas emissions are a further barrier to economic oil extraction. Nuclear could be a way of providing the necessary power. According to Alberta Energy President Wayne Henuset, "I believe nuclear is the best way to produce the power the province needs."
Henuset and other Energy Alberta members are planning to visit the communities involved to talk about the project's "rewards, the environmental impacts and the alternatives." "People are for this and want this and understand it," he is quoted as saying. Although the province's Conservative party has voted in favour of exploring nuclear for use in oil sands extraction, its energy minister, Mel Knight, has said the provincial government is staying neutral on the matter. He assured that there would be no development within the province without open, public discussions.
The company is planning to submit an application to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission on 15 June, according to reports. A decision on the location of the plant is expected by 15 September.
WNA's Canada's uranium productionand nuclear power information paper
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