CASPER, Wyo. — Wyoming will be home to the first “Natrium” nuclear reactor. The Cowboy State has been selected by TerraPower and PacifiCorp for the construction of the first Natrium reactor in the nation.
Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon was joined by people like U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm and TerraPower Chariman and Co-Founder Bill Gates during a press conference Wednesday announcing the project.
“The future of energy is here,” Granholm said during the announcement. She said the new Natrium technology would help work towards the goal of the administration of President Joe Biden to acheive net zero emissions economy-wide by 2050.
Article continues below...
Gates said that advanced nuclear power will be able to help address “global energy poverty and climate change” as it can provide “large amounts of power day and night almost anywhere on earth.”
Gordon said the plant would help meet his goal of making Wyoming net-negative in terms of carbon output while still utilizing fossil fuels.
Gordon said the new plant will replace an existing coal-fired plant in “coal country.” The governor’s office said in a press release that TerraPower and Rocky Mountain Power are considering several potential locations. The site will be announced by the end of 2021.
Gordon said the plant’s construction would provide “hundreds of jobs” and once it is up and running the number of on-going jobs as well as salaries would be comparable to the number of jobs at the coal-fired plant it will replace.
“I am thrilled to see Wyoming selected for this demonstration pilot project, as our great state is the perfect place for this type of innovative utility facility and our coal-experienced workforce is looking forward to the jobs this project will provide,” Gordon said in the press release. “I have always supported an all-of-the-above energy portfolio for our electric utilities. Our state continues to pave the way for the future of energy, and Wyoming should be the place where innovative energy technologies are taken to commercialization.”
The plant will generate tax revenue for Wyoming, the governor’s office adds.
“This project is an exciting economic opportunity for Wyoming,” RMP President and CEO Gary Hoogeveen said in the press release. “Siting a Natrium advanced reactor at a retiring Wyoming coal plant could ensure that a formerly productive coal generation site continues to produce reliable power for our customers.”
“We are currently conducting joint due diligence to ensure this opportunity is cost-effective for our customers and a great fit for Wyoming and the communities we serve.”
Gordon said during the press conference that the construction is possible in part due to the Wyoming passing House Bill 74 which set up a regulatory framework for small modular nuclear reactors.
“I commend Rocky Mountain Power for joining with TerraPower in helping Wyoming develop solutions so that our communities remain viable and continue to thrive in a changing economy, while keeping the state at the forefront of energy solutions,” Wyoming Senate President Dan Dockstader said in the press release.
Wyoming Speaker of the House Eric Barlow added: “Wyoming has long been a headwaters state for baseload energy. This role is proving to be ever more important. This effort takes partnerships, and we welcome those willing to step up and embrace these opportunities with us.”
The project is a demonstration of the Natrium technology and aims to “validate the design, construction and operational features.” The technology is a TerraPower and GE Hitachi technology.
“Together with PacifiCorp, we’re creating the energy grid of the future where advanced nuclear technologies provide good-paying jobs and clean energy for years to come,” said TerraPower President and CEO Chris Levesque. “The Natrium technology was designed to solve a challenge utilities face as they work to enhance grid reliability and stability while meeting decarbonization and emissions-reduction goals.”
The U.S. Department of Energy awarded TerraPower $80 million in initial funding to demonstrate the Natrium technology.
“TerraPower signed the cooperative agreement with DOE in May 2021,” the governor’s office said. “Next steps include further project evaluation, education and outreach as well as state and federal regulatory approvals, prior to the acquisition of a Natrium facility.”
“Learn more about this project and the Natrium technology at wyadvancedenergy.com.”
The announcement was streamed on the Wyoming PBS Youtube channel: