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ISSN 2753-7757 (Online)

Largest private equity raise in breakthrough nuclear power innovation

16/11/2022

Fuel assembly test stand at TerraPower facility Photo: TerraPower/ArcelorMittal
Fuel assembly test stand at TerraPower facility – steel manufacturer ArcelorMittal is investing $25mn in the nuclear company, whose advanced nuclear technology innovations are reported to have the potential to accelerate the world’s transition to net zero

Photo: TerraPower/ArcelorMittal

ArcelorMittal is investing $25mn in nuclear innovation company TerraPower through its XCarb® Innovation Fund. The investment is part of an $830mn equity raise concluded by TerraPower, claimed to be the largest private raise among advanced nuclear companies to date.

TerraPower was founded by Bill Gates in 2008 and focuses on the development of nuclear innovations. Its flagship technology is Natrium™, which features a sodium fast reactor combined with a molten salt energy storage system. This combination will provide clean, flexible energy and integrate seamlessly into power grids with high penetrations of renewables, according to the company.
 

The first Natrium reactor, featuring GE Hitachi technology, is currently being built as part of the US Department of Energy’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Programme (ARDP). The facility, which is being constructed near the site of a retiring coal plant in Kemmerer, Wyoming, will feature a 345 MWe sodium fast reactor alongside an energy storage system that will be capable of boosting output to 500 MWe during peak demand.
 

Large scale, first-of-a-kind, energy generation projects like Natrium take years to come to fruition, and TerraPower is targeting an in-service date for the project within this decade.
 

Commenting on the investment, Irina Gorbounova, Head of the XCarb Innovation Fund, ArcelorMittal, says: ‘The XCarb® Innovation Fund is designed to invest in the best and brightest innovations which hold the potential to accelerate the world’s transition to net zero and support the decarbonisation of our industry [steelmaking], which is intrinsically linked to access to an abundant supply of clean energy solutions. TerraPower is therefore a perfect fit for our Innovation Fund, and we are delighted to join its investor base.’
 

Focusing on a number of technologies, including waste-to-gas or biocarbon; gas reforming/gas transformation; hydrogen; carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS); long-duration, large-scale energy storage; and clean energy technologies, the Fund has invested $122.5mn in five companies, including TerraPower, since it was formed in March 2021.
 

In September 2021, ArcelorMittal also committed to an equity investment of $100mn over a five-year period when it became an anchor partner in Breakthrough Energy’s Catalyst Programme. The programme combines public and private finance to accelerate the development and deployment of four decarbonisation technologies – direct air capture; green hydrogen; long-duration energy storage and sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). It recently announced its first project funding, with $50mn granted to LanzaJet’s Freedom Pines Fuels SAF plant in Soperton, Georgia, US. 

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