Bill Gates has noted that we wants to increase nuclear power adoption in the world but wanted to find a safer and modern way to increase nuclear adoption. He’s been interested in it for about 14 years now. His plans to test it, stalled, due to the trade war with China and COVID-19 but it looks like he’s getting back on schedule with nuclear power.
Gates and Buffet are partnering on a nuclear reactor that will use natrium as the input. That is different from traditional nuclear reactors because they use uranium as their power source. At the present moment reports indicate that around 10% of the world’s power comes from nuclear reactors that use uranium as the input.
So natrium is experimental.
But what is natrium and what else should you know about this nuclear power plant from Bill Gates in Wyoming?
Bill Gates and the Natrium Fueled Nuclear Power Plant
Wyoming has granted the necessary approvals to repurpose a coal power plant and turn into a nuclear power plant. Reports indicate that natrium nuclear power plant will cost over $900 million. We have yet to hear about where this nuclear power plant will be located in Wyoming. Most people think that we will find out more information on this natrium fueled nuclear power plant by the end of 2021.
What is the value of such a nuclear power plant?
For one, you can obtain much more power output and second it provides significant reduction in emissions, providing society with the best of both worlds. It offers all around efficiency and, if successful, will help to produce the type of energy output that will be necessary in the coming decade.
The project will focus on “natrium technology, which has a 345MW sodium fast reactor coupled with a molten salt–based integrated energy storage system that will provide clean, flexible energy and stability for the grid. It seamlessly integrates into power grids with high penetrations of renewables and can be optimized for specific markets”, according to TerraPower.
What is intriguing about this technology is that de to the energy storage component, it can increase the MW from 345 to over 490MW during times of increased demand. It can power over 395,000 homes.
Bill Gates and Buffet will use their separate companies to manage the progress of this particular project. Gates will use TerraPower while Buffet while rely on his Berkshire Hathaway company, Pacificorp to look over each development.
What is Natrium?
TerraPower has been working on its approach to nuclear power plants for sometime now. It recently obtained an $80 million in 2020 to research and prove the value of Natrium. But what is Natrium and why Natrium? If you Google Natrium, you will see that it is another word for sodium. Natrium is latin for sodium. The idea is to use this chemical to bring about more cost effective and more powerful, portable nuclear reactors.
Everyone is Not Pleased
Everyone is not on board with this plan. A few think that it makes no sense to pursue unconventional and more technical solutions as it may bring about more potential issues. People worry about the safety that is present within this type of setup from the added enrichment of the fuel to potential issues that could occur in the sourcing and utilization of the fuel. But the push back to this argument is that these more progressed reactors should be more cost effective, more simple, and more streamlined in all aspects.
Wyoming is On Board with This Nuclear Power Project
The state would stand to create a slew of jobs while helping it contribute to progress in carbon neutral or carbon negative initiatives. It is something that Wyoming embraces because it has slowly experienced gradual closures of various coal operations.
This TerraPower and Pacificorp project will certainly be one to watch over the next two years. If it makes traction, and then scales up, that could have an impact on uranium miners and others within the conventional nuclear power reactor sector.