Saskatchewan's pricey pursuit of nuclear power perplexing

Saskatchewan's pricey pursuit of nuclear power perplexing

Postby Oscar » Mon Feb 20, 2023 9:32 am

Saskatchewan's pricey pursuit of nuclear power perplexing

[ https://thestarphoenix.com/opinion/lett ... m=referral ]

by David Geary February 5, 2023

The ongoing promotion of the exorbitantly expensive small modular nuclear reactors makes less than zero sense, economic or otherwise, writes reader David Geary.

An artist's rendering of a GE-Hitachi BWRX-300 small modular nuclear reactor. SaskPower is studying the BWRX-300 for possible deployment in Saskatchewan, with a decision on whether to proceed with building one expected in 2029. PHOTO BY MATT SMITH /Saskatoon StarPhoenix

The term ‘net zero’ greenhouse gases (GHG), by definition, does not mean zero. The term is used by federal and provincial governments to negotiate the ‘zero sum game’ of GHG emissions versus GHG mitigation measures.

Mitigation happens through new technologies and enhancing known nature-based CO2-capturing strategies — certain forestry and farming practices and grasslands and wetlands conservation and expansion.

Saskatchewan is zeroing in on solutions. Our newer combined-cycle natural gas power plants emit 60 per cent less GHG emissions than the coal plants they replace, exceeding the IPCC’s recommended reduction target of 50 per cent. And they’re always on time and on budget.

Very promising is the Net Power company’s new Allam Cycle zero-emission natural gas technology. It emits only H2O. Their proven 50 MWe prototype at La Porte, Texas has run successfully since 2018.

There are 300 MWe versions currently under development in the U.S., the U.K., and Alberta — a progressive venture with Frog Lake First Nation partnership. Capital costs for that 300 MWe unit are similar to other gas plants, $750 million.

That is around one-seventh of the oft reported $5-billion capital costs for a proposed speculative unproven 300 MWe GE-Hitachi small modular nuclear reactor (SMR) for Saskatchewan.

The minister overseeing SaskPower, in a recent radio interview about its recent $97 million net loss, acknowledged the Alberta project.

Good to know. But it makes his inexplicable ongoing promotion of the exorbitantly expensive SMR even more perplexing. In fact, it’s downright baffling. It makes less than zero sense, economic or otherwise.

David Geary, Saskatoon
Oscar
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