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Canadian Nuclear Power | The Future of Energy Transition | Global Energy Show
Why Canadian Nuclear Power is the Way of the Future
The nuclear industry in Canada has a very bright future. As we shift our focus to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and seeking more eco-friendly alternatives, nuclear power has joined the conversation in a huge way.
Of course, Canadian nuclear power has a rich history, dating back to the 1950s when Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) began work on the first Candu reactor.
Katherine Moshonas Cole, President of X-energy Canada sat down with Global Energy Show's digital host Rachel Gregory to discuss the future of Canadian nuclear energy.
Rachel: What is it that X-energy Canada does?
Katherine: X-energy, as a company, develops high-temperature gas reactors and the TRISO-X fuel that powers them. Our purpose is to enable the deployment of this technology in Canada and to create an ecosystem within Canada to actually deliver these reactors.
The nuclear industry in Canada has been quite exercised through all the refurbishment work that we've done. We're now working with Connectrix, who's building a very large and very complex testing facility to test components that are in high-temperature nuclear reactors and to test the backend of reactors that want to use steam for processes other than electricity. This is amazing because this doesn't exist anywhere else. So we're building these pieces within the Canadian ecosystem in order to deliver the reactions.
Rachel: Catherine, you came out of retirement to lead X-energy Canada. Why did you decide to do this?
Katherine: I had retired after 33 years of working in the nuclear industry and I noticed my teenagers becoming more and more concerned about the environment and about climate change. I just felt I should be doing something. Here I am with all this capability and knowledge and just as I started thinking about this, X Energy called me up. It was kismet.
Having come from Candu reactors, seeing this high-temperature gas reactor technology was a completely different way of looking at nuclear power. At first, it seemed so futuristic. I thought, yeah, these guys have some really wild dreams, but then when I started looking at it, I got so excited by the possibility that I just really dove into it and I haven't looked back since. I think it's just the most incredible thing. It's really the way of the future.
Rachel: What can you tell us about XC 100?
Katherine: XC 100 is the technology. It's a grid-scale reactor. 200 megawatts thermal, 80 megawatts electric. It's optimized for a four-pack (320 megawatts), which is the sweet spot for replacing some of our older fossil units.
The single unit on the other hand at 200 megawatts thermal at 80 megawatts electric is a good size for industrial processes. Sometimes maybe doubling them up.
In Alberta, we would see the petrochemical and steel-making industries being interested in them and the mining industry in other parts of Canada. It's simplified, it's modular, the load allows you to pair it with renewables, and it has high-temperature steam so it can be used for industrial processes for hydrogen production, which was another big deal for our founder.
How X-energy Will Benefit Canada
Rachel: In 2020, the federal government released the SMR action plan. How does X-energy fit within this plan?
Katherine: X-energy has a chapter in the plan. We are very engaged with the SMR action plan. We have identified key actions and commitments that we are working on. We are engaged with the regulator and are in the process of a vendor design review with the CNSC. We have engaged with the nuclear risk management organization and are in active discussions on how our particular fuel can be accommodated by the NWMO. We are actively building partnerships and establishing the value chain for Canadian businesses for Canadian industries for our supply chain here in Canada. We have a supply chain identified for most of the part components of our reactors. So, if we can build it in Canada, we will be building it here in Canada.
What the Future of Nuclear Power Looks Like?
Rachel: Where do SMRs and nuclear energy fit within the global energy transition?
Katherine: The future needs nuclear power, I truly believe this. We need nuclear power and we need it to be deployable in many, many regions around the world. We also need technologies that can pair with intermittent renewables. And we need technology that can be what I call the backbone of an intelligent energy system.
Everybody talks about integrated energy systems but I like to talk about intelligent energy systems because that's what they really are. We are wasting energy on a regular basis. I think we need to be more intelligent about that. We need to be able to take something like an SMR that is flexible, that is cost-competitive and that you can use in the best way possible.
So the oil sands, for instance, we can use to support the production of fossil fuels, but now you're reducing the carbon emissions from the actual product and that supports a cleaner overall system.
Learn More About the Future of Canadian Energy
If this conversation about Canadian nuclear power has inspired you to learn more about the energy industry as a whole, the Global Energy Show is the place for you. Register now!