TerraPower and PacifiCorp are looking into the feasibility of deploying up to five additional Natrium reactors and integrated energy storage systems in PacifiCorp's service territory by 2035. This is in addition to their previously announced plans to build the Natrium demonstration plant at the site of a retiring PacifiCorp coal-fuelled plant in Wyoming.

A rendering of a Natrium plant (Image: TerraPower)

Their joint study into the potential expansion 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. "We look forward to evaluating new potential sites for Natrium plants that have the same energy expertise and capabilities as our demonstration site."

The study will include the potential for advanced reactors to be located near current fossil-fuelled 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 said.

Gary Hoogeveen, president and CEO of Rocky Mountain Power - a division of PacifiCorp - said Natrium plants represent a carbon-free, dispatchable and reliable energy resource. "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," he said.

The US Congress and Department of Energy have taken proactive steps to continue to support the deployment of advanced nuclear technologies to help reach carbon-free goals, the companies said: "With the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and recent studies on the opportunities of a coal-to-nuclear energy transition, the role for advanced nuclear is clear. TerraPower and PacifiCorp remain committed to bringing the Natrium technology to market and providing reliability and stability to the grid as well as to energy producing communities."

Kemmerer in Wyoming was announced in November 2021 as the preferred site for the Natrium nuclear power plant demonstration project, which will feature a 345 MWe sodium-cooled fast reactor with a molten salt-based energy storage system. The site is close to PacifiCorp's coal-fired Naughton power plant, which is due to retire in 2025.

Subsurface investigations at the site were completed earlier this year, and TerraPower expects to submit a construction permit application to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 2023. Early earthwork activities for construction, as well as construction of the Large Sodium Test Facility - a non-nuclear building that will be used for testing critical components of the plant using molten sodium - is also expected to begin next year.

Hundreds of coal power plant sites across the USA could potentially be converted to nuclear plant sites, according to a US Department of Energy study published in September.

PacifiCorp is a regulated utility serving customers in the western USA. Its current 11,668 MWe of generation capacity includes hydro, wind, natural gas, coal, solar and geothermal resources.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News

Date: Saturday, 29 October 2022
Original article: world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/US-companies-look-to-expand-Natrium-reactor-deploy