Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are building a $1 billion next-generation nuclear reactor in Wyoming

Warren Buffett and Bill Gates on a red background with their thumbs up.
Warren Buffett and Bill Gates are coming together to build a nuclear reactor in Wyoming. Frederic J. Brown/Getty; Insider
  • Bill Gates’ and Warren Buffett’s companies picked Wyoming for their first advanced nuclear reactor.
  • Gates said the Natrium plant would be safer, perform better, and cost less than a traditional plant.
  • Wyoming’s governor said the project would create hundreds of well-paying jobs.
  • Sign up for the 10 Things in Tech daily newsletter.

The billionaire friends Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are set to build a $1 billion next-generation nuclear reactor in Wyoming, Gov. Mark Gordon said on Wednesday.

Gates’ company TerraPower and Buffett’s power company, PacifiCorp, said in a press release that they had selected Wyoming for their first reactor project, called Natrium, at the site of an old coal plant.

The nuclear reactor would be able to produce 500 megawatts of power during peak demand, TerraPower and PacifiCorp said, adding that this would be enough energy to power about 400,000 homes.

Advanced nuclear reactors such as Natrium are carbon-free power sources that could supplement wind and solar sources. They’re considered more eco-friendly than traditional nuclear reactors.

Advanced nuclear reactors have simpler designs that are easier to build, more fuel-efficient, cheaper, and safer than regular reactors, according to the World Nuclear Association.

The two companies said they would announce the exact site of the Natrium reactor demonstration plant by the end of 2021.

TerraPower previously said the project would cost about $1 billion, Reuters reported.

Gates said in a press briefing that the plant, which would feature a sodium reactor and a molten-salt energy-storage system, would be safer, perform better, and cost less than traditional nuclear power.

“We think Natrium will be a game-changer for the energy industry,” he said.

Wyoming, the top coal-producing state, has been a “leader in energy for over a century, and we hope that our investment in Natrium will allow Wyoming to stay in the lead for many decades to come,” the Microsoft cofounder added.

“This is our fastest and clearest course to becoming carbon negative,” Gordon said in the briefing. “Nuclear power is clearly a part of my all-of-the-above strategy for energy.”

Gordon tweeted that the nuclear reactor would provide on-demand energy, reduce CO2 emissions, and create hundreds of well-paying construction and operation jobs.

TerraPower, founded by Gates 15 years ago, received $80 million in initial funding from the US Department of Energy to demonstrate the Natrium project. The department has committed additional funding over the next few years, TerraPower said.