US curbs on China deals hit Bill Gates' nuclear venture

Mr Bill Gates, who co-founded TerraPower, said that regulations in the United States are currently too restrictive to allow the reactor prototype to be built domestically.
Mr Bill Gates, who co-founded TerraPower, said that regulations in the United States are currently too restrictive to allow the reactor prototype to be built domestically.PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK • TerraPower, a nuclear energy venture chaired by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, is seeking a new partner for early-stage trials of its technology, after new US rules forced it to abandon an agreement with China, company officials told The Wall Street Journal.

TerraPower reached an agreement with state-owned China National Nuclear Corp in 2017 to build an experimental nuclear reactor south of Beijing.

But Mr Gates wrote in an essay published late last week that TerraPower is unlikely to follow through on its plans in the face of new United States restrictions on technology deals with China.

The Washington-based company is now unsure which country it will work with to conduct trials of its technology, which is designed to use depleted uranium as fuel for nuclear reactors in a bid to improve safety and costs, company officials told the Journal.

"We are regrouping," chief executive Chris Levesque told the Journal in an interview. "Maybe we can find another partner."

The US Department of Energy announced last October new restrictions on nuclear deals with China, in keeping with a broader plan by the Trump administration to limit China's ability to access US-made technologies it considers to be of strategic importance.

NEW DIRECTION

We are regrouping. Maybe we can find another partner.

CHIEF EXECUTIVE CHRIS LEVESQUE, on TerraPower's plan after new US rules forced it to abandon a nuclear deal with China.

Mr Gates, who co-founded TerraPower, said in his essay that regulations in the United States are currently too restrictive to allow the reactor prototype to be built domestically.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 03, 2019, with the headline 'US curbs on China deals hit Bill Gates' nuclear venture'. Print Edition | Subscribe