President, Atlantica Centre for Energy
Canada’s nuclear future includes next-generation advanced small modular reactors from New Brunswick.
On Canada’s path to net zero by 2050, two to three times the current electricity generating capacity will be required. And the reality is that these ambitious targets cannot be achieved with existing clean energy technology.
While the country is exploring many clean energy options, New Brunswick is building on its nuclear expertise by developing fourth-generation advanced small modular reactors (aSMR). This technology will complement its leadership in smart grid and electrification, large-scale energy storage, and hydrogen. All these innovations are necessary to reach net-zero emissions by the year 2050.
Why New Brunswick?
What’s interesting is that New Brunswick has a particular advantage in making a clean energy transition with advanced small modular reactors (aSMR). The province has aligned all the critical elements to succeed.
New Brunswick has long-standing experience in nuclear. For almost 40 years, the Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station has honed its nuclear expertise, including the safe and successful refurbishment of its CANDU reactor completed 10 years ago.
Nuclear in New Brunswick has support. The technology was introduced by the previous Liberal government and is actively supported by the current progressive Conservative leadership. With safe nuclear operations in our backyard since the ’80s, communities have recognized its importance to the workforce and the economy.
One extremely important element in enabling success was the early inclusion of Indigenous communities. First Nations in the province have publicly acknowledged support for aSMR development in New Brunswick based on active and direct engagement in the project.
It isn’t all talk either. The provincial utility and private industry have made significant financial investments and commitments to growing the technology here at home. NB Power is working with two leading proponents, ARC Clean Energy Canada and Moltex Energy, to establish an advanced SMR industry. With support from our academic and training programs at the University of New Brunswick and the New Brunswick Community College, our future workforce is also on board.
A New Brunswick aSMR industry wouldn’t be successful without a supply chain to support it. The province hosted an in-person aSMR supply chain event in June 2022. The event attracted more than 270 delegates, including industry, government, and First Nations people representing 150 organizations. The interest in the aSMR supply chain demonstrates a willingness to realize the economic benefits that come with innovation.
As New Brunswick pursues these next-generation technologies with rigour, the benefit from the associated investment, intellectual property, and job growth will be far-reaching.
The work being done in New Brunswick will provide clean electricity, high-temperature steam generation, and clean hydrogen for both domestic and export markets.
New Brunswick is on its way to becoming a world leader in advanced SMR technology.
Is Canada ready to reap the rewards of building this expertise in New Brunswick?
As Canada moves toward its 2050 net-zero targets, New Brunswick will leverage its capacity in emerging clean energy technologies, including aSMRs, to backup other non-emitting forms of electricity, support the decarbonization of heavy industry, and produce hydrogen to meet energy needs around the globe.