US companies sign up with Oklo for microreactor power

09 April 2024

Oil and gas producer Diamondback Energy Inc has signed a letter of intent on a long-term power purchase agreement to use Oklo's Aurora 'powerhouses' for its operations in the Permian Basin. Oklo has also signed a deal to provide up to 500 MWe of power to Equinix to serve its data centres in the USA.

Oklo's vision of an Aurora powerhouse in use (Image: Oklo)

The non-binding letter of intent (LOI) with Texas-based Diamondback outlines a proposed 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA) focusing on using Aurora powerhouses to supply "reliable and emission-free electricity" to Diamondback's operations in the Permian Basin, in the south-western USA. According to the terms, Oklo intends to licence, build, and operate powerhouses capable of generating 50 MW of electric power to Diamondback E&P LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Diamondback near Midland, Texas.

The letter of intent outlines options to renew and extend the potential power purchase agreement for an additional 20-year term. Oklo's powerhouse designs are intended to be able to operate for 40 years, and the company's design-build-own-operate business model means potential customers like Diamondback can purchase power without complex ownership issues or other capital requirements, Oklo said.

"By developing and providing a low-cost, high-reliability, and emission-free energy source, Oklo is poised to help meet the growing energy requirements of operators like Diamondback," the company's CEO Jacob DeWitte said.

Oklo has also recently signed a letter of intent to provide up to 500 MWe of power to Equinix. According to a 2 April filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission by AltC Acquisition Corp, the letter of intent was executed on 16 February. Oklo is in the process of merging with AltC as part of its plans to go public, announced in July 2023.

The letter of intent confirms Equinix's interest in purchasing power from powerhouses to serve its data centres in the USA for a 20-year the filing notes, under power purchase agreements which would be renewable for further 20-year terms. Equinix has made a USD25 million prepayment to Oklo, which the filing says is Permitted Equity Financing. Under the letter of intent, Equinix would have a right of first refusal for 100-500 MWe of output from certain powerhouses for up to 36 months.

Oklo, founded in 2013, plans to commercialise its liquid metal fast reactor technology in the Aurora 'powerhouse', a fast neutron reactor using heat pipes to transport heat from the reactor core to a supercritical carbon dioxide power conversion system to generate electricity. The company has received a site use permit from the US Department of Energy for a prototype unit to be built at the Idaho National Laboratory.

In August 2023, the US Department of the Air Force, in partnership with the Defense Logistics Agency Energy, selected Oklo to site, design, construct, own and operate a microreactor facility to deliver electricity and steam at the Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska, but subsequently rescinded its Notice of Intent to Award pending the completion of further due diligence and a review of the vendor selection process by the Department of Justice. According to an update on the project issued in January, the Department of the Air Force has said it still aims to meet the 2027 timeline for the project.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News