Addressing climate change is an urgent global priority, requiring global action, national commitments, consistent policy and regulatory frameworks and the technological innovation and business partnership to realize these goals. GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) and TerraPower are committed to tackling the world’s biggest challenges and agree that climate change is one of the most pressing issues we face today. The companies support the science and goals expressed in the Paris Agreement to reduce global carbon emissions. Meeting the targets of the Paris Agreement requires investment in new and upgraded technologies.
Renewables are the fastest growing source of new power generation capacity and electricity. While this is a positive development for clean energy and addressing climate change, increased renewable penetration also creates some challenges. As the most dependable source of CO2-free, baseload and dispatchable power, nuclear energy must be a critical pillar in the transformation to a carbon-free future. Nuclear energy is complementary to renewables and can help address some of the challenges of increased renewable penetration.
GEH and TerraPower are collaborating on a new nuclear reactor, called NatriumTM, which takes the best from our existing sodium fast reactor (SFR) designs, GEH’s PRISM and TerraPower’s Traveling Wave Reactor. The results of the GEH and TerraPower collaboration have been strong and this can be credited to our synergies and more importantly where we complement each other. While GEH is a nuclear reactor developer and services and fuel provider with more than 60 years of experience TerraPower, founded by Bill Gates, is an innovative developer with significant R&D capabilities and owners with goals regarding energy, climate change and poverty.
Together, GEH and TerraPower redefined what nuclear could be by eliminating nuclear “sprawl”, the extent to which nuclear quality assurance and requirements apply, in order to reduce costs in many areas, and by designing a plant that will integrate with renewables. The result is the Natrium technology, a 345 MWe/840 MWt reactor plant with simple nuclear systems that are “decoupled” from its flexible energy storage and power generation system. Natrium leverages the simplicity of SFRs, leans on over 400 years of combined global SFR operating experience, and embraces design-to-cost practices. Our collaborative work and design were recognized when Natrium was selected for a demonstration award by the U.S. Department of Energy for the Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program. In addition, Natrium is compatible with third party analysis showing that additional revenues from the nuclear combined with energy storage justify higher CapEx as needed, and Natrium stands to be even more competitive when ancillary services and CO2 reduction are valued in the future.
GEH and TerraPower look forward to meeting the challenge and delivering a fleet of commercial Natrium reactors that will bring immense value and flexibility side by side with renewables, as we help address global warming and air pollution concerns.