South Korea's SK Group invests in TerraPower

16 August 2022

SK Inc and SK Innovation - both affiliates of SK Group, Korea's second-largest conglomerate - have invested USD250 million in US nuclear innovation company TerraPower. The investment by SK is part of the latest private capital fundraise, which has raised at least USD750 million of investment in TerraPower.

TerraPower's vision of a Natrium plant (Image: TerraPower)

In May this year, SK Group signed a Memorandum of Understanding with TerraPower to jointly develop "next-generational technologies" needed for small modular reactors (SMRs).

SK has now announced that, after a "year-long search for partnership opportunities to support its pledge to contribute to achieving the global carbon emission reduction target", it will invest USD250 million in TerraPower.

The fundraise - which TerraPower said was "one of the largest advanced nuclear fundraises to date" - was co-led by SK Inc and SK Innovation and TerraPower's founder Bill Gates. Additional funding will come from other investors.

"With the close of a USD250 million investment, SK has become a large shareholder of TerraPower," SK said. "The equity investment will enable SK to join TerraPower's nuclear reactor commercialisation projects in Korea and Southeast Asia and supply carbon-free power, spearheading the shift to carbon neutrality."

In 2021, SK pledged to reduce its carbon emissions by 200 million tonnes by 2030 and has highlighted SMRs as a competitive, safe and carbon-free energy source.

"SK is excited to expand our energy, technology and bioscience investments with leading companies in the US," said Moohwan Kim, executive vice president and head of the green investment centre at SK Inc. "We are committed to supporting TerraPower's global deployment of game changing products. We see important synergies in our businesses and this investment reinforces our strategic global carbon reduction goals."

SK Inc is a holding company of SK Group with specialisation in investment activities. Its strategic investment areas include advanced materials, biopharmaceutical, green energy and digital technologies. SK Innovation is a SK Group intermediate holding company in energy, petrochemical, lubricants, E&P (exploration & production), e-mobility battery, information and electronic materials businesses along with eight major subsidiaries.

"SK intends to amplify the synergies with TerraPower by bringing together TerraPower's innovative, next-generation nuclear technology and production capability for therapeutic radioisotopes with SK's diverse energy and biotech portfolios," SK said.

TerraPower has been selected by the US Department of Energy to receive cost-shared funding through the Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP) to test, license and build an advanced reactor within the next seven years. The company has selected Kemmerer in Wyoming as the preferred site for the Natrium nuclear power plant demonstration project, which will feature a 345 MWe sodium-cooled fast reactor with a molten salt-based energy storage system. The storage technology can temporarily boost the system's output to 500 MWe when needed, enabling the plant to follow daily electric load changes and integrate seamlessly with fluctuating renewable resources.

The company noted that part of the ARDP award requires a match of 50% of project costs, up to USD2 billion. "This new fundraise further builds on the support of existing investors and will support TerraPower's current implementation efforts," it said.

The TerraPower Isotopes (TPI) programme is supporting the transformation of the fight against cancer by advancing the next generation of isotopes. TPI has unique access to actinium-225 and is working to provide this isotope to the pharmaceutical community for the development of drugs that target and treat cancer.

"TerraPower is committed to solving some of the toughest challenges that face this generation through innovation," said TerraPower President and CEO Chris Levesque. "Whether it's addressing climate change with carbon-free advanced nuclear energy, or fighting cancer with nuclear isotopes, our team is deploying technology solutions and investors across the world are taking note."

Researched and written by World Nuclear News