TerraPower, the nuclear power company backed by Bill Gates, has announced Kemmerer, Wyoming as the site of its Natrium reactor. The project is being supported by the US Department of Energy (DOE), with a $1.9bn investment coming from the US Government.
The demonstration plant will feature a 345MW sodium-cooled fast reactor, which is safer, more efficient and more cost-effective than water reactors that traditional nuclear plants use. TerraPower also plan to use a molten salt-based energy storage system, which could allow them to recycle their own spent fuel and boost the system’s output to 500MW during peak demand.
A division of energy company PacifiCorp, which is owned by billionaire Warren Buffet and whose Naughton Power Plant site the demonstration plant will be built, is set to operate the plant in line with its plans to cut coal use by two-thirds.
Around 2,000 workers will be employed for its construction, with 250 people expected to support day-to-day activities once operational, which is expected in 2028.
Given the growing threat of climate change, and recent COP26 agreement to keep global warming within 1.5 degrees Celsius, this project signals the potential role of nuclear energy in helping to reduce emissions.
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