Billionaire Bill Gates and the U.S. Energy Department–backed nuclear energy project will be delayed amid the Russian-made special fuel supply crunch due to the Ukraine war.
What Happened: TerraPower, the company building it, said the Wyoming-based project has been running for at least two years, reported Reuters.
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Last year, TerraPower said its $4 billion Natrium demonstration plant would be built in Kemmerer, Wyoming, on a site where a coal plant is set to shut in 2025.
TerraPower and other U.S. companies are trying to develop a new generation of small nuclear plants to help cut carbon emissions. However, they are facing difficulties as the company that sells the fuel it needs is Russian.
“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine caused the only commercial source of HALEU [high assay low enriched uranium] fuel to no longer be a viable part of the supply chain for TerraPower, as well as for others in our industry,” said Chris Levesque, president and chief executive of TerraPower.
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Levesque added that TerraPower is anticipating a minimum delay of two years to be able to bring the Natrium reactor into operation.
The 345-megawatt plant was earlier slated to open in 2028. To ease the supply shortage, U.S. Energy Department is looking to downmix some of its stockpile of weapons-grade uranium.
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