Bill Gates and Warren Buffett’s billionaire friends have chosen Wyoming to launch the first Natrium nuclear reactor project on the site of a decommissioned coal plant. TerraPower, which Gates founded about 15 years ago, and PacifiCorp, which is owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, announced on Wednesday that the exact location of the Natrium reactor demonstration plant would be announced by the end of the year.
Small advanced reactors, which use different fuels than traditional reactors, are viewed as a critical carbon-free technology that can supplement intermittent power sources like wind and solar as states strive to reduce emissions that cause climate change.
The first Natrium nuclear reactor project, owned by billionaires Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, is set to begin construction. According to many experts, the project is a misguided attempt to meet CO2 reduction targets. Microsoft CEO Bill Gates has decided to fully LARP as Mr. Burns from “The Simpsons” by constructing his own nuclear power plant — and he’s chosen a tiny Wyoming town to do so.
TerraPower, an energy company founded by Gates and owned by Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway, is at the heart of the operation. 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.TerraPower CEO Chris Levesque
According to The Guardian, the Natrium nuclear power plant will be built in Kemmerer, Wyoming. When completed and operational, the facility will replace an old coal plant that is scheduled to close by 2025, and it is expected to create up to 250 jobs in the 2,600-person city.
TerraPower, an energy company founded by Gates and owned by Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway, is at the heart of the operation. “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,” TerraPower CEO Chris Levesque said in a press release.
According to The Guardian, Natrium will be a 345-megawatt sodium-cooled reactor that will serve approximately 250,000 homes in the Kemmerer area. This type of reactor allows the plant to shut down quickly in the event of a catastrophic “Chernobyl”-style emergency, with the hope that it will be safer than older and more traditional reactors.
“We believe Natrium will be a gamechanger for the energy industry,” Gates said at the project’s June launch event. Others, however, are skeptical of the technology. According to Edwin Lyman, director of nuclear power safety at the nonprofit science advocacy group Union of Concerned Scientists, using liquid sodium “has many problems.”
“Honestly, I don’t understand the motivation,” Lyman told the newspaper. “There are some people who are just strong advocates for it, and they’ve sort of won the day here by convincing Bill Gates that this is a good technology to pursue.”
As a backup generator, the Natrium reactors will supplement shortfalls in the wind and solar power production. The project includes a 345 megawatt (MW) sodium-cooled fast reactor with molten salt-based energy storage to increase power output to 500 MW during peak power demand. Natrium technology, like a battery, can store heat in tanks of molten salt for later use.
“Natrium includes nitrate heat storage tanks, which are the same type of heat storage used in concentrated solar power systems. This enables economic variable electricity output — a replacement for gas turbines and coal plants “According to Charles Forsberg of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering,
“The reactor runs at full power, supplying variable electricity to the grid. Heat storage is about a factor of ten less expensive than battery storage, but it requires a heat-producing technology to be coupled with heat storage. Nuclear energy is a low-carbon heat generation technology” he stated.
Regardless, it’s a little perplexing why two of the world’s most prominent billionaires have decided to team up to build a nuclear power plant in a tiny Wyoming town — it could pave the way for cleaner energy, but it’s also giving off a lot of evil-wealthy-supervillain energy.
Wyoming’s governor, Mark Gordon, stated, “This is our quickest and clearest path to becoming carbon negative.” In Wyoming, the country’s top coal-producing state, “Nuclear power is clearly a part of my all-of-the-above energy strategy.”
The project includes a 345-megawatt sodium-cooled fast reactor with molten salt-based energy storage that has the potential to increase the system’s power output to 500MW during peak power demand. Last year, TerraPower estimated that the plants would cost around $1 billion.