Bill Gates’ TerraPower is set to open a nuclear power plant in order to spark a revolution in the US power sector and to push for even greater strides towards shifting to greener, more sustainable energy sources.
For the Microsoft founder, the proper generation and use of nuclear energy will go a long way towards helping the United States meet its climate goals, specifically that of getting rid of greenhouse gas emissions without compromising the generation and distribution of electricity throughout the country.
Gates explained that, unlike either solar panels or wind farms, nuclear power is not dependent on the weather. At the same time, thanks to the advent of small modular reactor (SMR) technology, it is now possible to build smaller, more manageable nuclear power plants that can generate a great deal of sustainable power.
Gates and TerraPower do find themselves looking at a daunting task, however, as many people – and investors, in particular – balk at the use of nuclear power, particularly in light of the safety issues connected to such measures. But Gates is sure that his venture can come up with a safer, more practical approach to nuclear power generation via his venture.
The tech pioneer explained that the TerraPower team has addressed all the issues regarding safety and its solution will lead to less waste. Indeed, the reactor that will be installed at the TerraPower facility will use liquid sodium rather than water for cooling – a much safer alternative as water-cooled reactors are prone to overheating which, in turn, could lead to a meltdown. Also, sodium’s boiling point is significantly higher than water’s, and there is no need to pump liquid sodium back into the system which has long been the issue in water-cooled reactors.
Set to begin operation by 2030, the TerraPower plant is currently under construction in Kemmerer, Wyoming, and has actually been in development for nearly 20 years. However, the initiative faced delays last year following the Russian invasion of Ukraine which led to the loss of a key fuel source made only in Russia.
According to Gates, however, this was a temporary issue and has since been resolved. As he puts it, many uranium mines and processing facilities were shut down as Russia was expected to remain a leading supplier of the mineral. To address the matter, he pointed out that the United States has its own uranium deposits, so processing the mineral domestically would be the most prudent thing to do.