South Korean firms invest $250 million in TerraPower

August 16, 2022, 3:03PMNuclear News

U.S. nuclear technology company TerraPower announced yesterday the close of a $750 million equity raise—one of the largest advanced-nuclear investment drives to date, according to the announcement—with $250 million of that contributed by South Korean firms SK Inc. and SK Innovation.

Both firms are subsidiaries of the Seoul-based conglomerate SK Group, South Korea’s second-largest conglomerate, after Samsung Group.

SK Inc. said in its own announcement that the equity investment would permit the company to “join TerraPower’s nuclear reactor commercialization projects in Korea and Southeast Asia and supply carbon-free power, spearheading the shift to carbon neutrality.”

In 2021, SK Group pledged to cut carbon emissions 35 percent by 2030 from the 2020 level—equal to some 200 million tons of carbon—and 85 percent by 2040. To accomplish the former goal, the company said it plans to invest nearly $85 billion in green projects.

C-suite statements: “TerraPower is committed to solving some of the toughest challenges that face this generation through innovation,” said company president and chief executive officer Chris Levesque. “Whether it’s addressing climate change with carbon-free advanced nuclear energy or fighting cancer with nuclear isotopes, our team is deploying technology solutions, and investors across the world are taking note.”

Moohwan Kim, executive vice president and head of the Green Investment Center at SK Inc., commented, “SK is excited to expand our energy, technology, and bioscience investments with leading companies in the U.S. We are committed to supporting TerraPower’s global deployment of game-changing products. We see important synergies in our businesses, and this investment reinforces our strategic global carbon reduction goals.”

Background: TerraPower last November chose Kemmerer, Wyo., as the preferred site for its Natrium reactor demonstration project. The selection of Kemmerer—located near the Naughton power plant, a 448-MW coal-fired facility with two remaining operating units that are scheduled for retirement in 2025—followed an extensive evaluation process and meetings with community members and leaders, according to TerraPower. Factors considered in site selection included community support, physical characteristics of the site, the ability of the site to obtain a license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, access to existing infrastructure, and the needs of the power grid.

The demonstration plant is intended to validate the design, construction, and operational features of Natrium technology, developed in collaboration with GE Hitachi. The plant will feature a 345-MW sodium-cooled fast reactor with a molten salt–based energy storage system designed to boost the reactor’s output to 500 MW of power when needed to integrate with variable renewable energy sources.

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