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TerraPower chair Bill Gates at an October event in London. Photo: Leon Neal - WPA Pool/Getty Images

TerraPower, the Bill Gates-founded nuclear power venture, announced Tuesday plans to replace a Wyoming coal-fired power station with a $4 billion advanced reactor demonstration project.

Why it matters: Roughly half of the project's funding will come from the U.S. government, including $1.5 billion from the infrastructure bill that President Biden signed into law this week, per an emailed statement from Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm.

The big picture: TerraPower will build the 345-megawatt facility at the site of the Naughton coal plant in Kemmerer, Wyoming, about 130 miles northeast of Salt Lake City, pending federal and local approval, per a company statement.

  • The coal plant is set to close in 2025 and the new facility is due to open in 2028.
  • The Natrium reactor "would be fueled by uranium enriched up to 20%, a far higher level than today's fuel," Reuters notes.

Details: "The project features a 345 MW sodium-cooled fast reactor with a molten salt-based energy storage system," according to TerraPower's statement.

  • "The storage technology can boost the system's output to 500 MW of power when needed, which is equivalent to the energy required to power around 400,000 homes. The energy storage capability allows the plant to integrate seamlessly with renewable resources."

Of note: This is one of two projects supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, with initial funding of $160 million.

What they're saying: TerraPower CEO Chris Levesque said in a statement that the company's technology "will help ensure the continued production of reliable electricity while also transitioning our energy system and creating new, good-paying jobs in Wyoming."

  • Granholm said: "The energy communities that have powered us for generations have real opportunities to power our clean energy future through projects just like this one, that provide good-paying jobs and usher in the next wave of nuclear technologies."
  • The project has also won the support of conservative leaders, including Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), who praised the site choice:
A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Nov 30, 2021 - Energy & Environment

Battery price decline comes with a warning

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The latest data on lithium-ion battery prices shows the continued downward march that will help make electric cars and energy storage more competitive, but reveals storm clouds too.

Driving the news: Average battery pack prices fell another 6% from last year to $132 per kilowatt-hour, per the research firm BloombergNEF. That's an 89% decline since 2010 in inflation-adjusted dollars.

Stacey Abrams launches second campaign for Georgia governor

Photo: Eze Amos/Getty Images

Stacey Abrams, voting rights activist and former 2018 candidate for Georgia governor, is running for the position again in 2022. Abrams would be the first Black female governor in the country.

Why it matters: Abrams caught national attention in 2018 by narrowly losing an election to Republican Gov. Brian Kemp in a state held firmly by the GOP for nearly two decades.

First known U.S. case of Omicron variant identified in California

Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks during the daily briefing at the White House on Dec. 1. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

The first known U.S. case of the Omicron variant was detected in California, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed Wednesday.

Driving the news: The confirmed case was detected in a traveler returning from South Africa who was fully vaccinated and has mild symptoms, according to the CDC.