A small Wyoming town is hoping Bill Gates’ $1 billion nuclear power plant could save hundreds of jobs

Billionaire Bill Gates sits on stage in front of a blue background wearing a black suit jacket and grey tie.
Bill Gates’ nuclear power company TerraPower is considering Glenrock, Wyoming as the site of its next-generation nuclear reactor.

  • Bill Gates is considering Glenrock, Wyoming, for his next-generation nuclear power plant.
  • The plant could replace 200 jobs that are at risk as a local coal plant closes, the mayor said.
  • Gates’ company TerraPower is running the project with Warren Buffett-owned PacifiCorp.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A small town in Wyoming is hoping that Bill Gates will pick it for his upcoming $1 billion next-generation nuclear power plant, which could save hundreds of local jobs.

TerraPower, Gates’ nuclear-power company, is considering Glenrock, Wyoming, for its first advanced Natrium reactor, per the Associated Press (AP). Gates has said the reactor would be safer and cost less than a traditional nuclear reactor.

A coal-fired power plant in Glenrock is due to shut in 2027, according to plans published by energy company PacifiCorp, the plant’s owner. The plant, called the Dave Johnston Power Plant, employs nearly 200 people from Glenrock and two nearby towns, Wyoming News reported.

Glenrock Mayor Bruce Roumell told Fox Business that the site could more than make up for lost coal jobs.

“We’ve been told it’ll be close to 250 people,” Roumell told Fox Business when asked how many jobs could be created. “They’ve also said there would be around 1,500 people in the construction phase. That’s a pretty good influx into this area for us.”

TerraPower is running the Natrium project with PacifiCorp – owned by billionaire Warren Buffett – and plans to open the plant by 2028. The Natrium reactor could be a carbon-free energy source for about 400,000 homes during peak demand, TerraPower said in a press release.

Read more: UBS lays out the case for buying these 47 stocks across 11 sectors that are ‘preferred winners’ from a $140 trillion transition to clean energy that will transform the industry

Gates said in a June press briefing that the Natirum reactor, which uses liquid sodium as its coolant instead of water, would be safer and cost less than a traditional nuclear reactor. In October 2020, the US Department of Energy awarded the project $80 million in initial funding, per a TerraPower press release.

In June, TerraPower said in a press release that it would select a town in Wyoming for its first reactor project, and that it would announce the site by the end of the year. Gillette, Kemmerer, and Rock Springs are the three other towns under consideration, per the AP.

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

Fox Business said that nearly all of Glenrock’s residents it spoke to were excited at the idea of TerraPower moving into town.

“We’ve got to do something,” resident Deb Schell told Fox Business. “I think it’s the wave of the future. Coal is on its way out so we have to do something.”

TerraPower and PacifiCorp did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

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Exxon launched a $3 billion effort focused on lowering its emissions after investors pressured the oil giant to address climate change

Exxon Baton Rouge refinery
An Exxon refinery in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

  • Exxon Mobil on Monday announced a new business focused on low-emissions technologies. 
  • The business will initially focus on carbon capture, a technology Exxon has been developing for years, and spend $3 billion through 2025. 
  • The announcement follows mounting pressure from investors who have been pushing the company to do more to address climate change.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Exxon Mobil, the largest US oil company, announced on Monday that it was forming a new business focused on low-emissions technologies including carbon capture. The announcement follows reports that investors with more than $2 trillion in assets are pressing the company to move more quickly to address climate change. 

The Irving, Texas-based company said it plans to spend $3 billion through 2025 on what it calls “lower-emission technologies.” That’s $600 million a year, or 3% to 4% of the firm’s project budget for 2021.

Part of that will go toward 20 new carbon-capture projects that Exxon also announced Monday. 

“With our demonstrated leadership in carbon capture and emissions reduction technologies, ExxonMobil is committed to meeting the demand for affordable energy while reducing emissions and managing the risks of climate change,” Exxon CEO Darren Woods said in a statement. 

Carbon capture involves sucking greenhouse gas emissions out of ambient air or from point sources, such as steelmaking factories. It’s among a suite of technologies researchers say we’ll need to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement, an international accord aimed at keeping global warming in check. 

Read more: Exxon is slashing workers and cutting costs after a historic year of loss. Here’s everything we know.

The technology is attractive to oil companies in part because it doesn’t require that they rewrite their business models and pump less crude from the ground. As Exxon advances its carbon capture projects it will be able to lower the carbon emissions associated with each barrel of oil – something known as “carbon intensity.”

In December, the company committed to reducing the carbon intensity of emissions stemming from oil exploration and production by as much as 20% by 2025.

Other major oil companies including BP and Shell have taken more aggressive approaches to lower their emissions over the last year, such as by investing in clean energy sources like wind and solar. BP, for one, said it will spend $4 billion to $5 billion a year by 2025 on low-carbon energy. 

Exxon is scheduled to report financial results on Tuesday morning.

Exxon Mobil gas station

Investors call on Exxon to address its climate impact

The pressure on Exxon to do more to address climate change has been building over the past few months. 

Last year, the activist firm Engine No. 1, with the support of CalSTRS, began a campaign to elect four new board members, push the company to invest in cleaner sources of energy, and preserve its dividend. Other investors including BNP Paribas, through its asset management division, are pressing Exxon to be more transparent about its lobbying efforts as they pertain to climate change. 

Read more: Exxon is fighting a plan hatched by major investors to push the oil giant to reveal how it influences climate policy

These efforts are snowballing: Reuters reported last month that more than 135 investors who manage more than $2 trillion altogether are forming a coalition to force the company to make similar changes.

It’s not clear whether those investors will be satisfied by Monday’s announcement.

Carbon Engineering pilot plant
Occidental Petroleum is partnering with the carbon-capture startup Carbon Engineering. The startup’s pilot plant is pictured here.

Exxon’s new business will focus on carbon capture

Exxon has been developing and using carbon-capture technologies for years.

The new business, dubbed Low Carbon Solutions, marks a major expansion of that effort and it includes new carbon capture projects located in the US, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. Exxon also suggested it may expand its work with hydrogen. 

“ExxonMobil Low Carbon Solutions will also leverage ExxonMobil’s significant experience in the production of hydrogen which, when coupled with CCS, is likely to play a critical role in a lower-carbon energy system,” Exxon said in the press release. 

The Low Carbon Solutions business will be spearheaded by Joe Blommaert, who was formerly the SVP for global operations in Exxon’s chemical business. The company also elected him as VP, a coveted title shared by just 12 other executives. 

Read more: We mapped out the power structure at Exxon and identified 138 of the oil giant’s top employees. Here’s our exclusive org chart.  

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