Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is back in the news, talking about the importance of nuclear power. And while the software titan is bullish on the energy source, it will likely be another decade until we see a nuclear reactor from the Bellevue company he’s backing alongside Intellectual Ventures founder Nathan Myhrvold.
Speaking at at The Wall Street Journal’s ECO:nomics conference in Santa Barbara, California Thursday night, Gates said that Bellevue-based TerraPower plans to deploy its first reactor by 2022. He added that the facility would likely be built outside of the U.S., citing the difficulty in obtaining permits.
TerraPower, which spun out of Nathan Myhrvold’s Intellectual Ventures lab, is developing a traveling wave reactor which would improve upon nuclear technologies created in the 1950s.
Gates also shared some of his views on energy, telling the audience that it is unlikely that greenhouse-gas emissions will be reduced at any significant rate in the next 50 years, according to a report by The Los Angeles Times. “People underestimate how hard it is to make these changes,” said Gates, stressing the importance of cheap and reliable nuclear energy as a means to reduce global warming.
Gates is best known for his philanthropic work in the arena of global health. But the billionaire sees cheap, reliable energy as part of that overall plan to elevate some of the planet’s poorest people.
Tying those two areas of expertise together Gates noted that: “Cheap energy is like a fantastic vaccine.”