June 22, 2024
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Bill Gates-Backed TerraPower Begins Construction on Next-Gen Nuclear Facility

TerraPower, a company co-founded by Bill Gates, began construction on Monday for what is set to become America’s first next-generation nuclear power facility in Kemmerer, Wyoming. This facility aims to be the most advanced nuclear power plant in the world.

“This is a big step toward safe, abundant, zero-carbon energy,” Gates said in Kemmerer on Monday, according to the Associated Press. He emphasized the importance of projects like this for the future of the country, stating that the site will soon become “the bedrock of America’s energy future.”

Through this new facility, TerraPower seeks to “revolutionize” power generation. The company has broken ground in Wyoming to prepare the site for reactor construction and applied in March for approval of a construction permit for an advanced nuclear reactor that uses sodium instead of water for cooling.

While the technology for non-water-cooled reactors has existed for some time, Gates’ initiative in Wyoming marks the first attempt by a private company to launch an advanced reactor commercially in the U.S. in 40 years, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

The new facility will be adjacent to the Naughton Power Plant, a coal-burning power plant that will cease using coal in 2026 and shift to natural gas, which it will also stop using around 2036. The Naughton plant plans to source clean energy from the TerraPower reactor.

This project is part of a broader race against Russia, which is also developing sodium-cooled reactors. Russian state-run company Rosatom recently received approval for the site of its new BN-1200M nuclear power facility in the Sverdlovsk region.

The BN-1200, a sodium-cooled fast reactor, will eventually become Unit 5 of the Beloyarsk nuclear power plant project. Rosatom plans to obtain a construction license for the BN-1200 in 2027, according to Nuclear Engineering International.

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