TerraPower, a Bill Gates-co-founded startup, chose Kemmerer, Wyoming as the site of its first nuclear plant. The company aims to finish its revolutionary-designed nuclear reactor in the former coal town by 2028.
Kemmerer, Wyoming to Benefit From Nuclear Plant
Kemmerer, with a population of 2747 as of 2019, will generate an estimated 2,000 jobs for the nuclear plant construction.
TerraPower CEO Chris Levesque said that the plant will also provide long-term jobs once it operates. This is a significant development in the region.
Many of the long-held positions involved the gas and coal industries. In fact, the local power plant, a coal mine, and natural gas processing plant are homes to a total of 400+ jobs.
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Kemmerer Mayor William Thek welcomed TerraPower’s decision. “New industry coming to any community is generally good news.
You have to understand, most of our nearby towns are 50 miles or more from Kemmerer. Despite that, workers travel those distances every day for work in our area,” he said.
Why TerraPower Selected Kemmerer As Nuclear Plant Location
TerraPower selected Kemmerer among its shortlist of American towns due to certain criteria. This included geological and technical factors such as seismic and soil conditions.
Community support for the nuclear plant is also a very important consideration, according to Levesque. Once completed, the nuclear plant will generate a baseload of 345 megawatts. However, it can increase its load to 500 megawatts if necessary.
The Kemmerer nuclear power plant will cost about $4 billion to build the plant. TerraPower will shoulder half of the cost. Meanwhile, the US Department of Energy’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program will pay for the other half.
“It’s a very serious government grant. This was necessary,” Levesque said. “The US government and the US nuclear industry was falling behind.
China and Russia are continuing to build new plants with advanced technologies like ours, Levesque added. He said that these countries export their plants to many others. Meanwhile, the US government realized that Americans are lagging behind in nuclear power.
Kemmerer Plant Will Use Natrium Technology
The Kemmerer plant will also feature an advanced nuclear design called Natrium. This is a safer form of nuclear power processing developed by TerraPower with GE-Hitachi.
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Instead of using water as the cooling agent, Natrium plants use liquid sodium. Since this element can absorb more heat than water, the plant can reduce the buildup of high pressure. Less pressure means lesser chances of an explosion.
In addition, Natrium power facilities do not require an external energy source to operate cooling systems. This is one of the vulnerabilities exposed by the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi disaster.
A tsunami damaged the power supply of the nuclear plant’s cooling system. As a result, the plant overheated and led to a meltdown and release of radioactive material.
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The US could use more nuclear energy. A 1 gigawatt (1,000 megawatts) of power is enough to sustain a midsize city. In contrast, a small rural town can get by on a 1-megawatt power plant.
This information is part of “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster,” Bill Gates’ new book. In addition, Gates wrote that the United States uses 1,000 gigawatts and the world needs 5,000 gigawatts, he wrote. Levesque also noted that the Kemmerer plant can provide clean energy for at least 60 years.
Watch the Local * News video reporting that a new nuclear plant will rise in Kemmer, Wyoming:
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