Terrestrial Energy to work with Alberta on SMR commercialisation

12 August 2022

A Memorandum of Understanding between the nuclear technology company and Invest Alberta supports commercialisation of Terrestrial Energy's Integral Molten Salt Reactor with a focus on reducing emissions in the oil and gas, and petrochemical industries.

Calgary, Alberta (Image: Jack Savage/Unsplash)

Under the MoU, Invest Alberta - the Government of Alberta's crown corporation promoting high-value investments - will work with Terrestrial Energy on federal and provincial policies, and industrial incentives supporting transformative energy innovation in the western Canadian province. Alberta, along with the provinces of Ontario, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan, is working to advance small modular reactor (SMR) technologies through an interprovincial memorandum of understanding it joined in April 2021.

The IMSR plant is a small modular reactor designed for industrial cogeneration as well as high-efficiency, grid-based power generation, and can produce cost-competitive, high-temperature thermal energy with zero greenhouse gas emissions, the company said. It is "ideally suited" for natural resource extraction, low-carbon hydrogen and ammonia production, and many other energy-intensive industrial activities, and has "unique potential" to supply the heat and power needs of activities including those in the Alberta oil and gas, and petrochemical sectors, it added. Already employing more than 100 personnel in its Ontario operation, the company said it anticipates supporting high-quality jobs as it expands its activities in western Canada.

"There is great potential for SMRs to provide zero-emission energy for industrial operations in remote areas and further reduce emissions from Alberta's oil sands," Alberta's Minister of Energy Sonya Savage said. "We're proud of our industry's ongoing history of responsible energy development and innovation, and grateful to Terrestrial Energy for supporting job creation and economic growth in Alberta."

Simon Irish, CEO of Terrestrial Energy, said the IMSR cogeneration plant, with its Generation IV SMR technology, "provides a clear pathway for Alberta industry to achieve net zero, and develop production capabilities for industrial leadership in a net-zero energy economy of the future." The province's continued policies supporting industrial innovation and economic growth make Alberta attractive to the company, he added.

Alberta's upstream energy sector includes oil sands (sometimes called tar sands), conventional oil and gas, and mining and quarrying, employing over 140,000 people. Bitumen royalties make the largest contribution to provincial resource royalty revenue, with bitumen revenues totalling some CAD11.61 billion (USD9 billion) in 2021-22. But the bitumen in oil sands does not flow like conventional crude oil, so must be mined or heated underground using steam - produced using natural gas - and further processed to recover bitumen from sand. Alberta represented 56% of total Canadian demand for natural gas in 2020, according to the Canada Energy Regulator, consuming almost seven times more natural gas per day than the residential and commercial sectors combined.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News