February 9, 2023

Alberta Stories

The X factor to Alberta’s future in nuclear energy  

Nuclear energy – we’ve heard about it, read about it and built our own opinions about it, but do we truly understand its capabilities when produced safely and the value it brings the environment and economy?  

A recent survey revealed that nearly 70 per cent of Albertans would be comfortable with nuclear power in the province. X-energy’s small modular reactor (SMR) technology, more specifically its Xe-100 SMR, is ready to make that happen here in the province. 

X-energy is a prime example of a nuclear technology company that has developed an intrinsically safe SMR that generates both power and high-temperature steam and keeps the safety of the people and the environment at the forefront of operations.  

X-energy has taken an interest particularly in Alberta due to the province’s energy-intensive economy that would benefit from the clean power and steam their technology produces, eliminating CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions that result from the province’s current energy streams – ultimately helping to decarbonize industrial production as a whole. Katherine Moshonas Cole, President of X-energy Canada, states, “Where can Alberta really benefit from nuclear power? Alberta can use nuclear power to support its existing critical energy industry. As well as decarbonizing that remaining bit from electricity production on the grid, the Xe-100 can directly decarbonize energy-intensive industrial processes in oil and gas and petrochemical; both foundational in Alberta’s economy.”  

Moving forward the decision to implement SMR nuclear in Alberta will be primarily driven by the private sector. Alberta’s deregulated electricity sector and energy-only market make the province highly appealing for companies looking to expand operations in Canada.  

 Alberta as a province has embraced SMR technologies and have been actively pursuing its growth inside the region. In 2020, Alberta, along with New Brunswick, Ontario, and Saskatchewan, published a Strategic Plan for the Deployment of Small Modular Reactors, recognizing nuclear as a viable clean energy solution that also supports economic growth. Nuclear SMR plants and their related supply chains generally require high amounts of capital investment and have the potential to create a large volume of permanent, skilled jobs. A four-unit Xe-100 SMR plant, for example, is estimated to generate up to 3,800 full-time equivalent jobs during construction and $2.8 billion in GDP. 

X-energy has seen a great deal of success in the U.S in the past few years. In 2020, they were chosen by the United States Department of Energy as part of their Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program to deliver a four-unit Xe-100 SMR plant and a nuclear fuel fabrication facility, the latter which broke ground in late 2022. The company also announced a collaboration with Dow to implement their Xe-100 reactors at one of Dow’s U.S Gulf Coast’s sites by approximately 2030.  

X-energy has made great strides in expanding opportunities in Canada, and Alberta, this includes:  

Overall, as the area of SMR technology continues to expand, capitalizing on this economic and environmental opportunity will only continue to showcase Alberta as a global leader in energy. With innovative firms like X-energy showing interest in the province, and the ever-growing demand for clean energy solutions, Alberta has the chance to become one of the first regions to widely embrace this growing sector and utilize it to not only foster sustainable economic growth but change energy production as we know it.  

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