SK inks strategic ties with TerraPower
Published : May 17, 2022 - 15:43
Updated : May 17, 2022 - 15:43
A rendered image of TerraPower's nuclear power grid (TerraPower)
SK Group said Tuesday it has signed a nonbinding agreement with the US small-sized nuclear power reactor design company TerraPower to solidify the groupwide push to reduce carbon emission.

But the second-largest conglomerate in South Korea did not disclose a plan for an investment in the company.

Under the plan, SK Inc., SK Innovation and TerraPower will jointly develop “next-generational technologies” needed for small modular reactors which operate at a capacity of 500 megawatts or less. The companies will also join forces to commercialize small nuclear generators by TerraPower in countries not limited to Korea.

The plans will be based on the memorandum of understanding signed by representatives of SK Inc., SK Innovation and TerraPower, including TerraPower Chief Executive Officer Chris Levesque, at SK Group headquarters in Seoul Tuesday.

SK Group said in a statement that it aims to secure the power-generating capacity without burning fossil fuels, and at the same time, overcoming obstacles in cultivating new and renewable energy sources and maintaining the power output with consistency in Korea due to unpredictability of meteorological condition and limited land availability.

SK Inc. Vice Chairman Jang Dong-hyun (from left), TerraPower CEO Chris Levesque and SK Innovation President Kim Jun pose for a photo at the signing ceremony held at SK headquarters in Seoul on Tuesday. (SK Group)
TerraPower is developing reactors that use liquefied metal as a coolant instead of water, which enables a small reactor to pursue high power density and at the same time operate at a low pressure, decreasing the chances of a meltdown. Moreover, TerraPower‘s power grid will use molten salt to store thermal energy generated from the reactors, enabling the stable supply of power.

TerraPower’s products will be classified as Gen IV nuclear reactor, an advanced version of the current Gen III reactor with enhanced safety, according to SK Group.

TerraPower was founded in 2008 by entrepreneur and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates. The venture company aims to build its first sodium-cooled fast reactor in the US in 2028.

SK Group has pledged to cut 35 percent of carbon emissions by 2030 from the level of 2020, or 200 million tons of carbon, and 85 percent of emissions by 2040.