Story at a glance

  • The Natrium power plant is expected to be more fuel efficient, cost effective and safer than traditional nuclear reactors and could supplement existing renewable energy sources such as wind and solar.
  • “We think Natrium will be a game-changer for the energy industry,” Bill Gates said during a news conference Wednesday.
  • Wyoming’s governor said the nuclear plant would provide on-demand energy and significantly cut carbon emissions, as well as create hundreds of jobs in the state.

A next-generation nuclear power reactor that could bolster the nation’s transition to low-carbon energy will be built on the site of a retiring coal plant in Wyoming.

Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon (R) on Wednesday announced the state will house a Natrium reactor pilot project in partnership with nuclear reactor design company TerraPower, power company PacifiCorp and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). 


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TerraPower was founded by Bill Gates about 15 years ago, and PacifiCorp is owned by Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway. 

The project will feature a sodium-cooled fast reactor with a molten salt-based energy storage system capable of producing 345 megawatts of power. TerraPower says the storage technology could boost the system’s output to 500 megawatts of power for more than five-and-a-half hours when needed, enough energy to power about 400,000 homes. 

TerraPower says the Natrium technology is more fuel efficient, cost effective and safer than traditional nuclear reactors and could supplement existing renewable energy sources such as wind and solar. 

“We think Natrium will be a game-changer for the energy industry,” Gates said during a news conference Wednesday. 

“Wyoming has been a leader in energy for over a century and we hope our investment in Natrium will help Wyoming to stay in the lead for many decades to come,” Gates said. 

The exact location of the Natrium demonstration plant will be announced by the end of the year. TerraPower’s CEO Chris Levesque said the plant would take about seven years to build, according to Reuters

“Together with PacifiCorp, we’re creating the energy grid of the future where advanced nuclear technologies provide good-paying jobs and clean energy for years to come,” Levesque said.

“The Natrium technology was designed to solve a challenge utilities face as they work to enhance grid reliability and stability while meeting decarbonization and emissions-reduction goals,” he said. 

Wyoming’s governor said the nuclear plant would provide on-demand energy and significantly cut carbon emissions, as well as create hundreds of jobs in the state. 

Wyoming is the nation’s top coal-producing state. 


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Published on Jun 03, 2021