Bill Gates' Nuclear Power Venture Taking Steps to Fight Climate Change

Costs will be minimized and efficiency will be optimized.
Fabienne Lang

On Thursday, TerraPower — a nuclear power venture that Bill Gates founded — announced it is moving towards building small nuclear power plants with advanced storage systems that it'll call Natrium.

The hope is to store electricity that would be used when solar and wind power are lacking due to weather conditions. 

The end result is to try and minimize climate change by cutting emissions as much as possible. 


Commercialized nuclear power stations

"As a nuclear innovation company, TerraPower values collaboration with GE Hitachi to make nuclear generation as affordable as possible," said Chris Levesque, TerraPower President and CEO, in a statement.

TerraPower and GE Hitachi have partnered up to commercialize and create small nuclear power stations, which they'll call Natrium. The plan is to have them functioning by the end of the 2020s starting with the U.S. and other developed countries, before moving on to other countries that don't yet have any nuclear power. 

Per Levesque, by 2050 "we would see hundreds of these reactors around the world, solving multiple different energy needs."

Natrium stations would cost $1 billion each and feature a 345-megawatt reactor that would be cooled by sodium, per Reuters.

The plan is for these stations to complement renewable energy by storing the reactor power in tanks of molten salt throughout days when power grids are already well supplied by other sources. And on days when solar and wind power are lacking, the stored nuclear power would be used. 

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To minimize any mishaps with the molten salt power storage, such as leaks, Natrium will be designed to provide consistent temperatures, which will lead to less long-term damage. 

"Our collective experience brings unparalleled capabilities in design and construction that ensure the Natrium product can drive value for our customers," said Jay Wileman, GEH President and CEO.

Find out exactly how nuclear power works by reading this article.

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