Company backed by Bill Gates wants to deploy small modular nuclear reactors across U.S.


TerraPower, a company founded by billionaire eugenicist Bill Gates, is planning to build a new type of nuclear power plant known as a small modular reactor (SMR) that it wants to blanket across the United States.

According to reports, an SMR typically has a power capacity of 300 mW or less, which is about one-third the production of a legacy nuclear reactor. TerraPower says it has officially "joined the race" to be the first to successfully produce a deployable SMR, with Russia and China also racing to create the lowest-cost, most-effective version.

CEO Chris Levesque says that TerraPower is currently seeking regulatory approval in the U.S. for an innovative liquid sodium-cooled SMR. Also known as a Natrium reactor, this version of an SMR can be constructed at roughly half the cost of a traditional water-cooled nuclear reactor.

Having already secured nearly $1 billion in private investments, TerraPower has partnered with the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation to explore how to deploy Natrium reactors in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for electricity and hydrogen production.

U.S. taxpayers to subsidize TerraPower's SMRs, not Gates with his billions

The U.S. government has also promised to give $2 billion in U.S. taxpayer dollars to TerraPower for its project, meaning American workers are essentially subsidizing this Bill Gates-backed company rather than Gates himself funding the project.

TerraPower's inaugural project will occur in Kemmerer, Wyo., pending permit approvals. The company's first SMR will be constructed near a former coal power plant, and the project is expected to begin this upcoming June.

By 2030, TerraPower hopes to complete the Kemmerer product by turning on the plant.

"When you use liquid sodium as a coolant instead of water, it's a game-changer," said Levesque. "Natrium plants will cost half of what light water reactor plants cost ... and we are moving our project along pretty aggressively."

Russia and China are both reportedly building their own SMRs at this time as well. One is a floating plant located in Pevek, Russia, and the other is in Shidao Bay, China.

Those two countries are moving along much more quickly with the project since TerraPower faces elevated interest rates and surging expenses here in out-of-control-inflation America. There is also a scarcity of enriched uranium, which is necessary to build SMRs.

America's first-ever SMR was supposed to have been constructed by an Oregon-based company called NuScale, which ended up scrapping its plans after utilities scoffed at a proposed 50 percent price hike.

TerraPower has not yet provided a quote for what its Natrium-generated power will cost, but it would make sense that a similarly drastic price hike is baked into its project as well, making energy unaffordable for millions.

Keep in mind that TerraPower, as well as another company working on SMRs called PacifiCorp, are part of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway. Both of these companies announced back in October 2022 that they plan to deploy five more Natrium reactors by 2035.

"Sodium-cooled reactors operate at lower pressures, which requires fewer safety systems," said Adam Stein, director of nuclear energy innovation at The Breakthrough Institute.

"That reduces problems that could go wrong with the plant and reduces costs because they can be built with simpler materials while maintaining safety."

In the comments, many joked that if Bill Gates is behind these reactors, they will be about as reliable as Microsoft's Windows operating system.

"Gates couldn't build an operating system that wouldn't crash," one said. "Now he wants to play with nuclear generators. That's not going to end well." 

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