A feasibility study released Nov. 27 by Ontario’s Bruce Power has concluded that nuclear energy could add 1,000 MW of electricity to the Saskatchewan power grid by 2020. The company considered three reactor designs during the feasibility study: Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd.’s ACR-1000, Westinghouse’s AP1000, and Areva’s EPR.

Bruce Power determined that an area near the border of Saskatchewan and Alberta (including Lloydminster, the Battlefords, and Prince Albert), would be “the most viable host” for a nuclear power plant in the region. The North and South Saskatchewan Rivers were identified as viable water sources for a plant in the province.

Bruce Power—which owns and operates the Bruce Nuclear power plant in Ontario—is already considering the construction of a plant at Peace River, Alberta. However, the company said earlier this year that Saskatchewan may be a more suitable site for western Canada’s first nuclear power plant.

The week before this announcement, the Saskatchewan government issued a release encouraging the company to continue laying the groundwork for a possible facility. “Our government supports adding value to our raw uranium resources here in Saskatchewan,” said Lyle Stewart, minister of enterprise and innovation. “We will undertake a thorough evaluation of the conditions identified by Bruce Power that would be necessary for a nuclear plant to be feasible.”

Officials plan to meet community and aboriginal leaders and hold more discussions with Saskatchewan’s government-owned power company, SaskPower.

Now that a region has been identified, Bruce Power will also consider suitable parcels of land and begin meeting with community and aboriginal leaders where appropriate. Following that, the company may select a suitable location for an environmental assessment. This would take up to three years to complete and would involve extensive technical and environmental studies along with significant consultation.

In December, Bruce Power will release additional information on an assessment being conducted in collaboration with the Canadian Hydrogen Association considering the role next-generation nuclear, hydrogen, wind, and solar could play in the province.

A November Fortune magazine story profiling Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall noted that Saskatchewan, the world’s largest producer of uranium, “today enjoys Canada’s fastest-growing economy; its GDP is expected to rise 3.9% this year, compared with 0.9% for the country as a whole, and it has a $3 billion budget surplus.”

With only one million residents in a province the size of Texas, Wall is on a labor recruitment campaign to staff up for a growing number of jobs, especially in the mining sector. Given the power industry’s skilled labor shortage, Wall or his successor will likely have to engage in some serious recruiting for nuclear engineers a few years down the road.

Sources: Bruce Power, Fortune, World Nuclear News, meridianbooster.com