Powering the world through sources of clean energy versus sources powered by fossil fuels is becoming more and more pertinent day by day. With the effects of climate change already beginning to rear their ugly heads, it is more important than ever to utilize and develop alternative sources of fuel. Fortunately, Bill Gates and the team at his start-up TerraPower are way ahead of the game. CNBC reported that Bill Gates and TerraPower are building a nuclear reactor in a small town in Wyoming.
Bill Gates’ start-up TerraPower will break ground in Kemmerer, Wyoming beginning in 2024, and construction of the nuclear reactor is expected to be completed by sometime in 2028. Kemmerer’s current main industry is coal (producing nearly 40% of all coal in the United States), but jobs in the town have been getting fewer and farther between because of shifting global priorities, which has not been boding well for the town that serves as the main source of employment for all Wyoming residents with a 50-mile radius. According to The Guardian, the new nuclear reactor plant will serve to employ nearly 2,000 people at the height of construction. That is significant considering that the town is only comprised of 2,600 residents.
The benefits of the nuclear reactor plant once its complete will far exceed just offering jobs to the residents of Kemmerer. The plant will effectively output enough energy to power some 250,000 homes. It will initially output approximately 345 megawatts of nuclear power and eventually be able to crank out 500 megawatts. To put that into perspective, according to Bill Gates’ book How To Avoid A Climate Disaster, 1,000 megawatts is enough to power an entire city. TerraPower CEO Chris Levesque also pointed out that the plant will have enough nuclear energy from the reactor to run for 60 years before needing to be replaced.
Additionally, not only will this nuclear reactor plant be able to provide an immense output of clean energy that will ultimately service hundreds of thousands of people, but it is also the first nuclear reactor plant of its kind because it uses a nuclear design called Natrium. Prior to the Natrium design, all nuclear power plants needed some source of outside energy to run. The benefits of Natrium are twofold. The obvious one is that the nuclear reactor won’t be putting any amount of climate-affecting energy into the air. The second benefit to Natrium technology is that it makes using Nuclear energy much safer than ever because it uses liquid sodium as a cooling agent inside the reactor instead of water. Liquid sodium has a much higher boiling point than water which means that it can absorb more heat which translates to less pressure building up within the reactor which means that it is far less likely to ever suffer an explosion.
The nuclear reactor project will cost a total of $4 billion dollars to complete which is being made possible by a combination of funding from both TerraPower and a government-issued grant. And although before Bill Gates’ startup even breaks ground on the project they will have to face “…a comprehensive licensing process overseen by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission …” it is truly encouraging to think that in the coming years the United States will finally be making measurable steps towards becoming carbon neutral.