SaskPower hosted its first Power Talks webinar Thursday, as they look to inform the public on the current state of power in Saskatchewan.
The first of the events, labeled "Your Top Questions About Nuclear" had various industry experts answer questions regarding nuclear power in the province.
The first topic that they tackled was just how nuclear might fit into Saskatchewan.
George Christidis, Vice President of Government Relations and International Affairs at the Canadian Nuclear Association says companies like SaskPower should look at just what the province needs.
"Utilities have an opportunity here to take a look at their regional realities. To take a look at what those different regions need in terms of different technologies to achieve their goals. So the utilities working together actually increases the opportunity to meet those net total goals."
One part of developing nuclear technology is making sure that other jurisdictions remain confident in Saskatchewan.
"Obviously with the increased emphasis on addressing the climate crisis, as the reports coming out of the UN and IPCC report address, that there really is a climate crisis that's emerged and emerging along with the sort of the geopolitical tensions," said Christidis, "The war in Ukraine has really increased the need for clean energy technologies and of course, nuclear is a part of that."
In that way, Canada has been maintaining an edge in the nuclear industry which gives Saskatchewan a clear path forward.
"It's fair to say that Canada has been a leader in this space as it's developed options, particularly on the small modular reactor piece for sure. Canada being one of the key countries that are seeking to address those common objectives, particularly, it's absolutely an international and domestic trend in terms of looking at these technologies."
Some people would look at nuclear's price tag and are turned off by the initial investment.
Senior Strategic Advisor for NB Power's Advanced Reactor Development team Paul Thompson says SMRs, which the province has been looking at, avoid much of that issue.
"Nuclear has a high upfront capital cost, but that is then paid back over the lifetime of the station so that upfront cost is what people sort of stick in their minds. The main factor affecting that cost is the interest accumulated during construction and this is where SMRs have a number of very important benefits here. They have a lower overnight cost compared to large nuclear since their overall cost is less and they have fewer systems and components. SMRs also have shorter construction timelines and thus lower interest costs because they're modular in nature and thus more construction is done off-site and in parallel."
Most importantly, nuclear power is one of the few sources of renewable baseload power, which Thompson says is worth the price.
"Nuclear provides base load energy, which is 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Therefore, many people look at just the base cost for alternatives and do not include effectively the total cost that has to be provided to ensure that the utility can meet the total demand on the grid."
If the province looks to provide more renewable energy in the future, it's likely that will need to come from multiple types of sources.
"You can't get there with renewables alone and one would want a healthy mix of clean energy types and certainly in Saskatchewan, you have a lot of sunshine, you have a lot of wind and so the proportion, if you wish, of renewables can be higher than in other areas of the country. That makes sense for a really balanced portfolio of generation types and that is the strategy that SaskPower is exploring."
A link to register for the remaining talks, set for May 2, 3, and 10 can be found at saskpower.com/powertalks.