Plan for two additional Natrium units announced
Portland, Ore.–based PacifiCorp—owner of the soon-to-be-retired Wyoming coal plant selected in 2021 as the future site of TerraPower’s Natrium reactor demonstration project—has released its 2023 Integrated Resource Plan, which recommends the addition of two more Natrium units to the company’s generation resource mix by 2033.
The two additional reactors, according to a PacifiCorp news release, are likely to be sited in Utah near currently operating coal-fired facilities.
TerraPower’s demonstration plant, slated for Kemmerer, Wyo., is intended to validate the design, construction, and operational features of the 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 necessary to integrate with variable renewable energy sources.
Last December, TerraPower announced that it was pushing back the start date of its Kemmerer reactor by a minimum of two years. The company had originally hoped to use Russian-supplied high-assay low-enriched uranium fuel to get the demonstration unit up and running by 2028, but Russia’s invasion of Ukraine put an end to those plans.
Watts needed: On top of the 500 MW expected from the Kemmerer project by 2030 and an additional 1,000 MW expected from two Natrium units by 2033, PacifiCorp plans on powering its service areas through 2042 with the following mix of clean energy:
- 9,111 MW of new wind resources.
- 8,095 MW of storage resources, including batteries co-located with solar generation, standalone batteries, and pumped hydro storage resources.
- 7,855 MW of new solar resources (most paired with battery storage).
- 4,953 MW of capacity saved through energy efficiency programs.
- 929 MW of capacity saved through direct load control programs.
- 1,240 MW of nonemitting peaking resources that meet high-demand energy needs.
What they’re saying: “The advanced nuclear resources that appear in the plan represent a promising future for our employees and communities in rural Utah and Wyoming,” stated Rick Link, senior vice president of resource planning, procurement, and optimization at PacifiCorp. “As we transition to a net-zero energy future, it is important to leverage the experience, skills, and dedication of the communities that have supplied our energy needs for the past century.”
Chris Levesque, TerraPower’s president and chief executive officer, said, “The Natrium reactor offers carbon-free, dispatchable energy plus gigawatt hour–scale energy storage, making it the ideal technology for utilities to deploy as they plan to meet decarbonization targets. We are pleased with the additional Natrium units in this year’s IRP and look forward to continuing to work with PacifiCorp as we bring good-paying jobs and decades-long generating assets to local communities.”