TerraPower, PacifiCorp, and Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon announced plans last week to build a next-generation nuclear power plant on the site of one of the state’s retiring coal plants. The exact site of the Natrium reactor demonstration plant is expected to be announced by the end of the year.
TerraPower was founded by Bill Gates about 15 years ago and the power company, PacifiCorp is owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway.
The project will feature a uranium-fueled, 345-megawatt sodium-cooled fast reactor. The advanced nuclear reactor includes a molten salt-based energy storage system, which can act like a battery and give an energy boost up to 500 megawatts for more than five hours. At that maximum output, the plant will generate enough energy to power 400,000 homes.
These small advanced reactors, which run on different fuels than traditional reactors, are a carbon-free technology that can supplement other renewable power sources like wind and solar as states aim to cut carbon emissions
“This is our fastest and clearest course to becoming carbon negative,” Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon said. “Nuclear power is clearly a part of my all-of-the-above strategy for energy”.
Late last year the U.S. Department of Energy awarded TerraPower $80 million in initial funding to demonstrate Natrium technology, and the department has committed additional funding in coming years subject to congressional appropriations.
Next steps include further project evaluation, education, and outreach as well as state and federal regulatory approvals, prior to the acquisition of a Natrium facility.