New Technology Improves the Economics of One of the Fastest and Lowest-Cost Paths to Carbon-Free Advanced Nuclear
Bellevue, Wash. – Aug. 27, 2020 – TerraPower and GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) announced today the launch of the Natrium™ reactor and energy system architecture. This advanced nuclear technology features a cost-competitive sodium fast reactor combined with a molten salt energy storage system. Building on the technology used in solar thermal generation, Natrium energy storage and flexible power production will offer abundant clean energy in time to help meet climate goals.
The Natrium technology’s novel architecture simplifies previous reactor types. Non-nuclear mechanical, electrical and other equipment will be housed in separate structures, reducing complexity and cost. The design is intended to permit significant cost savings by allowing major portions of the plant to be built to industrial standards. Improvements use fewer equipment interfaces and reduce the amount of nuclear-grade concrete by 80% compared to large reactors. Natrium reactors are designed to provide firm, flexible power that seamlessly integrates into power grids with high penetrations of renewables.
The Natrium system features a 345MWe reactor and can be optimized for specific markets. For instance, its innovative thermal storage has the potential to boost the system’s output to 500MWe of power for more than five and a half hours when needed. This allows for a nuclear design that follows daily electric load changes and helps customers capitalize on peaking opportunities driven by renewable energy fluctuations.
“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. “Our exceptional technology development capabilities, unmatched financing credibility and achievable funding strategy mean that the Natrium technology will be available in the late 2020s, making it one of the first commercial advanced nuclear technologies.”
“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. “We designed this system with operator input to potentially increase their revenues by 20% through the use of energy storage.”
The breadth and depth of the team’s expertise and resources reflect years of work on multiple reactor designs and efforts across the nuclear lifecycle. The Natrium system demonstrates the benefits of modern virtual design and construction tools and has attracted the attention of numerous utilities through the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program. PacifiCorp, a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Energy, Energy Northwest and Duke Energy have expressed their support for the commercialization effort, which will provide energy and energy storage to the electrical grid.
TerraPower is a leading nuclear innovation company that strives to improve the world through nuclear energy and science.Since it was founded by Bill Gates and a group of like-minded visionaries, TerraPower has emerged as an incubator and developer of ideas and technologies that offer energy independence, environmental sustainability, medical advancement and other cutting-edge opportunities. It accepts and tackles some of the world’s most difficult challenges.Behind each of its innovations and programs, TerraPower actively works to bring together the strengths and experiences of the world’s public and private sectors to use advanced nuclear to answer pressing global needs. Learn more at https://terrapower.com/.
About GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy
Based in Wilmington, N.C., GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) is a world-leading provider of advanced reactors and nuclear services. Established in 2007, GEH is a global nuclear alliance created by GE and Hitachi to serve the global nuclear industry. The nuclear alliance executes a single, strategic vision to create a broader portfolio of solutions, expanding its capabilities for new reactor and service opportunities. The alliance offers customers around the world the technological leadership required to effectively enhance reactor performance, power output and safety. Follow GEH on LinkedIn and Twitter.