Bill Gates’ nuclear innovation company, TerraPower, has announced Kemmerer, Wyoming, USA, as the preferred site for the Natrium reactor demonstration project.
The Kemmerer location, near the Naughton Power Plant, was selected by TerraPower following an extensive evaluation process, as well as hosting meetings with community members and leaders.
The project is based on TerraPower and GE-Hitachi technology and is one of two advanced reactor demonstration projects (ARDP) selected to receive support from the US Department of Energy (DOE).
“People across Wyoming welcomed us into their communities over the past several months, and we are excited to work with PacifiCorp to build the first Natrium plant in Kemmerer,” said Chris Levesque, president and CEO of TerraPower.
“Our innovative technology will help ensure the continued production of reliable electricity while also transitioning our energy system and creating new, good-paying jobs in Wyoming.”
The project team evaluated a variety of factors when selecting the site of the Naughton Power Plant, where the remaining two coal units are scheduled to retire in 2025.
Factors included community support, the physical characteristics of the site, the ability of the site to obtain a license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), access to existing infrastructure, and the needs of the grid.
“On behalf of Kemmerer and surrounding communities, we are pleased and excited to host the Natrium demonstration project. This is great for Kemmerer and great for Wyoming,” said Bill Thek, the mayor of Kemmerer.
TerraPower expects to submit the plant’s construction permit application to the NRC in mid-2023, with the plant becoming operational in the next seven years.
According to TerraPower, the demonstration plant features a 345MW sodium-cooled fast reactor with a molten salt-based energy storage system. The storage technology can boost the system’s output to 500MW of power when needed, which is equivalent to the energy required to power around 400,000 homes.