Saskatchewan is taking a look at microreactors, a smaller option that could bring power to more remote locations.

The province gave the Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC) $80 million to research the technology.

The SRC will first look at the eVinci microreactor, made by Westinghouse Electric Company.

The company purports that the microreactor can make up to 5 megawatts of electricity, enough to power around 3,000 residential homes.

"Westinghouse is proud to be working with the team at SRC on this vital project, and for the support from Premier Moe and the Government of Saskatchewan," Westinghouse President and CEO Patrick Fragman said. "The eVinci battery technology is the perfect fit for Saskatchewan since it is fully transportable. It also provides carbon-free electricity and heat, uses no water, and can be completely removed from site after operating continuously for eight years or more."

Premier Scott Moe was also present for the event and talked about the advantage the reactors could give to rural areas in Saskatchewan and beyond.

"You can think of the opportunities for mine sites not only in northern Saskatchewan or rural areas of Saskatchewan but northern and rural areas of Canada where you can utilize this type of technology as opposed to those diesel power generators that are there. Now we're building a $100 or $150 million power line into that mine site or said community."

The new technology can also help Saskatchewan's renewable energy goals, as replacing those diesel generators takes CO2 out of the air.

"This reactor ... will operate 8 to 10 years at full power, the spent fuel at the end of that period will be removed back at the factory and sent for long-term storage in a regulated repository," said SRC CEO Mike Crabtree. "The fuel, the volume of that is the equivalent of 3 200-litre drums. 3 200-litre drums of fuel powering a 3000-home community equivalent for 10 years."

"In some of our northern communities that are powered by diesel or mine sites that are provided by diesel, those three drums replace a million drums of diesel. That million drums of diesel represent half a million tonnes of CO2, so that, I hope gives you some indication of the sort of positive environmental impact of these types of microreactors."

Crabtree says that $80 million will go towards a multi-step process that includes regulatory matters, licensing, public engagement, and indigenous engagement for five years. Once the reactor is installed in a community, it would then pay for itself over the course of 8-10 years.

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