Bill Gates Venture Chooses Wyoming City for Sodium Nuclear Plant

Cheyenne, Wyoming (AP) — A small city in the top coal mining province of Wyoming, USA, near a coal-fired power plant that will soon be closed, officials say it will be home to an experimental nuclear power project backed by Bill Gates. Announced on Tuesday.

Based in Bellevue, Washington, TerraPower will build a Natrium power plant in Kemmerer, a 2,600 city in southwestern Wyoming, and the coal-fired Naughton power plant operated by PacifiCorp’s subsidiary Rocky Mountain Power will be closed in 2025. Will be.

Chris Levesque, TerraPower’s president and chief executive officer, said in a statement, “Our innovative technology ensures continuous production of reliable electricity while migrating energy systems and waiming new. It helps create high-income jobs. “

The project will employ as many as 2,000 people during construction and 250 if the coal industry is operating in a state of loss of employment.

If as reliable as traditional nuclear power, a 345 MW power plant will produce enough climate-friendly electricity to serve about 250,000 households. The announcement came a few days after officials from the United States and other countries promised to continue their efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions at the Global Climate Change Summit in Scotland. rice field.

Gates, Microsoft co-founder and chairman of TerraPower, plans a Wyoming project in June with Rocky Mountain Power, President Joe Biden’s administration, and state officials who produce about 40% of the country’s coal. Announced. After the announcement, four cities in Wyoming participated in the project.

Levesque told reporters that a pool of workers of similar size with experience operating coal-fired power plants was a major factor in deciding to install a coal-fired power plant in Kemerer.

“I think these workers are completely ready to work with sodium. Of course, they need to undergo some retraining,” Levesque said.

According to Levesque, the development of a simulator to train workers to operate a nuclear power plant is part of the project’s seven-year development, with construction scheduled to begin in 2024.

Proponents of the project, which features a sodium-cooled fast reactor and molten salt energy storage, say it is more performant, safer and less costly than traditional nuclear power.

“Sodium will be the next improvement in safety. The important thing is to be independent of external power supplies, pumps, and additional equipment to help the plant recover in an emergency,” Lebesk said. He mentioned the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident caused by the tsunami that knocked out an emergency generator.

The high heat transfer properties of sodium allow the Natrium plant to be air cooled. This will allow the plant to be shut down quickly in an emergency, saving costs because there are no emergency generators and pumps, Levesque said.

Others are skeptical about the benefits of sodium over water for cooling like traditional nuclear power plants.

“There are many problems with the use of liquid sodium,” said Edwin Lyman, director of nuclear safety at the Union of Concerned Scientists’ science advocacy nonprofit.

Countries, including the United States, have been experimenting with sodium-cooled fast reactors for decades, according to Lyman, but Russia is the only country to develop such a reactor on a large scale.

“Honestly, I don’t understand the motivation,” Lyman said. “Some people strongly support it. They won the day here by persuading Bill Gates that this is a good technique to pursue.”

Other sites considered as plants were the Wyoduck plant near Gillette in northeastern Wyoming, the Jim Bridger plant in the southwestern part of Rock Springs in the southwestern part of Wyoming, and Glenrock in the eastern central part of Wyoming. It was the Dave Johnston plant.

The closure of Kemerer’s Norton coal-fired power plant in a few years puts local mines that supply coal only to the power plant at risk.

Located about 130 miles (210 km) northeast of Salt Lake City, Chemiaa is a fossil enthusiast’s destination at the nearby Fossil Butte National Monument and privately owned fossil quarries. It is also home to the location of the first JC Penney, a store called the Golden Rule, which was opened by James Cash Penney in 1902.


Follow MeadGruver on