TerraPower and Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) have agreed to expand and commercialize TerraPower’s Natrium technology, a nuclear reactor and energy storage system. The agreement aims to contribute to the goal of tripling nuclear energy capacity to meet international net-zero objectives, a commitment recently announced at COP28.
The Natrium reactor is able to offer carbon-free energy that may be scaled up or down based on demand, and the first Natrium reactor is already being built in the United States near a retiring coal plant in Wyoming. The new plant, said to be the first coal-to-nuclear project in the world, may operate at up to 500 megawatts, enough to power about 400,000 homes on clean energy.
TerraPower said that the company may benefit from ENEC’s experience with its Barakah nuclear energy plant, reportedly the largest clean energy effort in the United Arab Emirates’ history. ENEC has plans to add a fourth and final unit to the facility, which generates 5.6 gigawatts of energy, in 2024.
“Bringing advanced nuclear technologies to market is critical to meeting global decarbonization targets,” said Chris Levesque, president and CEO of TerraPower. “TerraPower and ENEC are leading the way in deploying nuclear plants, and this agreement allows us to share our expertise and design experience, and explore the opportunity for deployment of Natrium reactors around the world including additional locations in the United States. We look forward to evaluating new opportunities for Natrium and increasing our collaboration with ENEC.”
Agreement Contributes to U.S.-UAE Partnership to Scale-Up Clean Energy
In 2022, the UAE and the U.S. formed the Partnership for Accelerating Clean Energy (PACE) as a joint commitment to add 100 GW of green energy globally by 2035 through $100 billion of investments, and the new agreement aims to contribute to this partnership. PACE aims to invest in clean energy specifically in emerging economies, support clean energy innovation and strong supply chains, reduce methane emissions, tackle industrial and transportation decarbonization, and promote nuclear energy as a viable clean energy solution.
Some parties are skeptical of the time and cost involved in large-scale nuclear energy projects, but TerraPower claims the Natrium technology offers one of the fastest and lowest-cost pathways to provide advanced clean energy around the world. According to the World Nuclear Association, nuclear energy currently provides about a quarter of the world’s low-carbon electricity and makes up 10% of the world’s overall electricity mix.
The agreement includes plans to explore the use of Natrium technology both for electricity generation and for less traditional applications, such as hydrogen production.