Bill Gates’ next generation nuclear reactor to be built in Wyoming
TerraPower, PacifiCorp and Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon announced plans on Wednesday to build a next-generation nuclear power plant on the site of one of the state’s retiring coal plants. The demonstration project will build a fully functioning power plant with the intention of validating TerraPower’s Natrium technology.
Billionaires Warren Buffett and Bill Gates are proposing to build a new kind of small nuclear power plant in rural Wyoming. Designed to be easier to build and operate than a traditional nuclear power plant, the so-called “Natrium” reactor would replace a portion of an existing coal-fired power plant.
“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” in Wyoming, the country’s top coal-producing state.
The exact location of the nuclear plant will be decided by the end of the year, and the facility should be operational “later this decade” according to a TerraPower spokesperson.
It 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.
Gates and others have argued the nuclear power will need to play an important role in cutting carbon emissions. President Biden has set a goal of cutting U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by at least half by 2030 compared to 2005 levels.
Nuclear power currently provides nearly 20% of U.S. electricity. Renewable power sources contribute another 20% and fossil fuels make up 60%.