TerraPower focuses on building its first improved nuclear reactor in a coal town in Wyoming

TerraPower focuses on building its first improved nuclear reactor in a coal town in Wyoming


  • TerraPower, founded by Bill Gates, has picked Kemmerer, Wyoming, a frontier-era coal town, as the location for its first demonstration nuclear power plant.
  • The facility will cost around $4 billion, with half coming from TerraPower and half from the US government, according to the business.
  • The facility will be operated by Rocky Mountain Power, a branch of PacifiCorp, which is owned by Berkshire Hathaway Energy, and will play a role in the power company’s de-carbonization agenda.

Offerings by TerraPower and how different are their reactors

TerraPower, a company co-founded by Bill Gates to revolutionize nuclear reactor designs, has picked Kemmerer, Wyoming, as the site for its first demonstration reactor. By 2028, it hopes to have the plant built in the frontier-era coal town.

The plant’s construction would create 2,000 jobs in Kemmerer, according to TerraPower CEO Chris Levesque in a video chat with reporters on Tuesday.

It will also create new clean-energy jobs in a region where the coal and gas industries dominate. A local power plant, a coal mine, and a natural gas processing plant now employ over 400 people, which is a significant number for a town of only 3,000 people.

Furthermore, Natrium facilities do not require an outside energy source to run their cooling systems, which can be a risk in the event of an emergency shutdown. This contributed to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster in Japan in 2011. A tsunami knocked out the diesel generators that powered the plant’s backup cooling system, causing a meltdown and the discharge of radioactive material.

Changes seen

The Kemmerer plant must yet clear a few barriers, including federal approval.

“The Nuclear Regulatory Commission oversees a rigorous licensing procedure that is, simply, expensive,” Levesque added. “There are a plethora of reviews.”

Coal-fired facilities like the Naughton facility in Kemmerer, according to Gary Hoogeveen, president, and CEO of Rocky Mountain Power, “have benefited our consumers for decades with very low-cost power.” “And we are really grateful for this.” Nevertheless, the time is changing for better future.”

“External authorizations from the federal government, regulatory bodies, and state governments, will compel us to adjust, and no doubt, we will have to de-carbonize,” he explained. “As we progress down that road, we consider the Natrium initiative as extremely important to our customers.”

Wind energy is a component of that effort as well. Rocky Mountain Power has constructed 2,000 megawatts of wind-power capacity in Wyoming so far, and this number is expected to rise.

“Wyoming is a state with a lot of wind resources,” Hoogeveen remarked. “We are aiming to add thousands of megawatts of wind capacity,” the governor said.

The nuclear power plant in Kemmerer, on the other hand, will be a crucial link for the state, according to Hoogeveen.

He also stated, “It’s a incredible site for absorbing the renewable energy’s intermittency and making the most of the built-in storage, which is extremely valuable to us.”

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