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Advanced nuclear breaks ground // Pipeline gets ready to go online // DAC and fusion unite

Welcome to Grid Brief! Here’s what we’re looking at today: an advanced nuclear project gets started and the Mountain Valley Pipeline seeks regulatory approval. Plus, direct air capture may soon be powered by fusion.

TerraPower Breaks Ground on Advanced Nuclear Power Plant

Bill Gates at TerraPower’s groundbreaking. Credit: Benjamin Rasmussen/NYT

Bill Gates-backed TerraPower has officially broken ground on an advanced nuclear power plant in Kemmerer, Wyoming. Housed on the site of a retiring coal plant, the Natrium reactor—a sodium fast reactor—will deliver 345 megawatts of power to the grid. At its peak, it could generate up to 500 megawatts at its peak, enough for up to 400,000 homes.

One of Natrium’s comparative advantages lies in its sodium-cooled system. This technology allows the reactor to both store energy and quickly scale up its output to meet the needs of the grid. With more renewables coming online, Natrium is built to complement the intermittency of these power sources.

The reactor must still receive approval from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) before it can begin operating. In March, TerraPower submitted a 3,300-page permit application to the NRC that will take at least two years to review.

Mountain Valley Pipeline Requests Approval to Go Into Service

Damn nature

Developers of the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) have asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for authorization to begin operating. The 303-mile pipeline will transport up to 2 billion cubic feet of natural gas daily (enough to power 10 million homes) from northwestern West Virginia to southern Virginia.

The MVP was first announced in 2014 with an anticipated completion date of 2018. Litigation and permitting delays have pushed back this project timeline and increased costs from $3.5 billion to $7.85 billion.

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