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TerraPower to build first Advanced Nuclear Reactor in Wyoming

TerraPower, a company co-founded by Bill Gates to revolutionize nuclear reactor designs, has picked Kemmerer, Wyoming, as its first demonstration reactor. By 2028, it hopes to have the plant built in the frontier-era coal town. The plant’s construction would create 2,000 jobs in Kemmerer, according to TerraPower CEO Chris Levesque in a video chat with reporters on Tuesday. It will also create new clean-energy jobs in a region where the coal and gas industries dominate.

A local power plant, a coal mine, and a natural gas processing plant now employ over 400 people, a significant number for a town of only 3,000 people. Kemmerer Mayor William Thek told CNBC, “New industry coming to any community is generally good news. You have to understand, most of our nearby towns are 50 miles or more from Kemmerer. Despite that, workers travel those distances every day for work in our area.” TerraPower chose a site based on geological and technical variables such as seismic and soil conditions, as well as community support, according to Levesque.

The facility will have a baseload capacity of 345 megawatts when completed, with the ability to increase to 500 megawatts. According to a rule of thumb suggested by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates in his new book, “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster,” 1 gigawatt, or 1,000 megawatts, of energy, will run a midsize city and a tiny hamlet can operate on around 1 megawatt.

He wrote that the United States uses 1,000 gigawatts and that the globe requires 5,000 gigawatts. The facility will cost about $4 billion to build, with TerraPower providing half of the funding and the US Department of Energy’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program providing the other half.

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