PacifiCorp and TerraPower last week announced a joint study to assess the feasibility of deploying up to five additional Natrium reactors with integrated energy storage in PacifiCorp’s service territory by 2035.
Natrium reactors are a joint TerraPower and GE Hitaci technology.
PacifiCorp and TerraPower in 2021 announced plans to bring a Natrium demonstration plant to Kemmerer, Wyoming, where PacifiCorp’s Naughton coal-fired power plant is scheduled for retirement in 2025.
The companies expect the demonstration plant to be operational by 2028. It will combine a 345-MWe sodium-cooled fast reactor with a molten salt-based energy storage system that can increase overall output to 500 MWe.
The joint study on potentially deploying five more reactors “is a significant step toward building the energy grid of the future for PacifiCorp’s customers and a tangible example of the promise advanced nuclear brings to utilities serious about leading the nation’s energy transition,” TerraPower President and CEO Chris Levesque said in a statement.
“We look forward to evaluating new potential sites for Natrium plants that have the same energy expertise and capabilities as our demonstration site,” he added.
Gary Hoogeveen, president and CEO of Rocky Mountain Power, a division of PacifiCorp, said, “this is just a first step, as advanced nuclear power needs to be evaluated through our resource planning processes as well as receive regulatory approval. But it’s an exciting opportunity that advances us down the path to a net zero energy future.”
According to PacifiCorp and TerraPower, “the joint study will evaluate, among other things, the potential for advanced reactors to be located near current fossil-fueled generation sites, enabling PacifiCorp to repurpose existing generation and transmission assets for the benefit of its customers.” Both companies “will engage with local communities before any final sites are selected,” they added.
TerraPower was founded in 2008 by Bill Gates and other investors. In 2020, it was awarded $80 million from the Department of Energy to demonstrate the Natrium reactor, along with its technology co-developer, GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, and its engineering and construction partner, Bechtel.