A team led by TerraPower, which includes Bechtel as its partner for plant design, licensing, procurement, and construction, will receive matching funds from the U.S. Department of Energy to build a demonstration advanced nuclear power plant, the Department announced this week. The team will receive $80 million in funding for fiscal year 2020 under the Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program, with a goal to build an operational plant in five to seven years.
The plant would be based on the Natrium system, featuring an advanced, cost-competitive sodium fast reactor paired with an innovative molten salt energy storage system based on those used in solar thermal generation.
"This award is a pivotal moment for the future of resilient, reliable, low-carbon energy in the United States," said Barbara Rusinko, president of Bechtel's Nuclear, Security & Environmental global business unit. "It will shape the industry for decades to come and create the opportunity for a leap forward in innovative plant design, engineering, and construction - all aimed at making advanced nuclear competitive in cost and complementary to wind and solar. This is exactly the innovation we hope to bring to the Natrium team."
Bechtel, the industry leader in nuclear plant engineering and construction since the 1950s, joins a team that also includes GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, PacifiCorp, Energy Northwest, and Duke Energy.
The Natrium design is affordable and capable of adapting to changes in daily electricity demands driven by solar and wind energy fluctuations. It also separates nuclear and non-nuclear facilities and systems within the plant footprint, simplifying the licensing process and lowering construction costs.
"This award is a transformational event in nuclear energy," said Chris Levesque, TerraPower president and CEO. "Together with the U.S. Department of Energy and our partners, TerraPower will demonstrate a truly advanced nuclear technology at commercial scale. In addition to its superior economics, the Natrium technology solves an entirely new problem that utilities face today, the need for clean, firm generation and power storage to operate in tandem with wind and solar."