Bill Gates Makes Sizable Investment In Nuclear

Mike Leslie
June 29, 2024

Adding to the geothermal and fusion reactors being built to stifle the energy crisis, Bill Gates is going all in on nuclear energy.

Inputs that matter: In Brazil, oil production has plunged almost 25% since the beginning of this year, caused mainly by unnamed technical problems encountered at the Mero and Tupi pre-salt fields.

  • Simultaneously to the string of technical issues, the environmental agency that should approve new production equipment and related work has been on strike in a wage dispute, limiting the speed with which Petrobras can repair the damage.
  • Meanwhile, Middle Eastern nations have been battling scorching heat waves over the past two months, opening the usual summer arbitrage for fuel oil, which is widely used for incremental power generation across the region.

The opportunity: As freight costs for European exporters have become prohibitive because of the Red Sea risks, Russia has become the most significant fuel oil supplier to the Middle East, with exports averaging 215,000 b/d in May.

  • According to Kepler data, Saudi Arabia is set to import the highest volume of fuel oil in three years due to heat waves.

Zoom in: Bill Gates is ready to sink billions into getting next-generation nuclear energy in the United States.

  • While it is not considered renewable energy, nuclear energy emits zero carbon emissions and could be a key part of a viable pathway to meeting global emissions targets.
  • "I put in over a billion, and I’ll put in billions more," Gates was recently quoted by Bloomberg.
  • Nuclear power has been gaining traction around the globe as a viable option for national and private decarbonization strategies.
  • Bill Gates thinks that making nuclear power affordable and efficient is within reach, and he plans to continue investing his wealth in it until it becomes possible.

Between the lines: Finding new ways to drum up a whole lot of clean energy output in a hurry has become increasingly urgent as the tech sector, and Artificial Intelligence in particular, suck up rapidly increasingly colossal amounts of energy.

  • The increased demand from the tech sector has become so extreme that energy demand growth from the developed world has surpassed that of developing countries, flipping a long-running script on its head for the first time in years.

Follow the money: Bechtel recently broke ground in Kemmerer, Wyoming, on an advanced nuclear reactor that uses sodium instead of water as a coolant, according to a June 10 news release from the contractor.

  • Bechtel is the engineering, procurement, and construction partner on the job, known as the Natrium Demonstration Project, for Bellevue, Washington-based TerraPower.
  • What sets Natrium apart from traditional nuclear power plants is how it will keep reactor temperatures in check.
  • According to the Department of Energy, the facility will cool the reactor using sodium-based technology instead of water.
  • According to the American Nuclear Society, liquid sodium has a much higher boiling point than water: 882 degrees Celsius, compared to water’s 100 degrees Celsius mark.
  • With this system, Bechtel claims that the facility can provide clean, baseload operation at 345 megawatts and can flex as high as 500 megawatts, per the release.

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