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Investigating Benefits and Challenges of Converting Retiring Coal Plants into Nuclear Plants

Investigating Benefits and Challenges of Converting Retiring Coal Plants into Nuclear Plants

Full Title: Investigating Benefits and Challenges of Converting Retiring Coal Plants into Nuclear Plants: Nuclear Fuel Cycle and Supply Chain
Author(s): U.S. Department of Energy
Publisher(s): U.S. Department of Energy
Publication Date: September 13, 2022
Full Text: Download Resource
Description (excerpt):

A coal-to-nuclear (C2N) transition means siting a nuclear reactor at the site of a recently retired coal power plant. Three overarching questions from the C2N transition guide this research: where in the United States are retired coal facilities located and what factors make a site feasible for transition; what factors of technology, cost, and project timeline drive investor economics over such a decision; and how will C2N impact local communities?
The study team evaluated the siting characteristics of recently retired plants and those operating coal-fired power plant sites run by a utility or an independent power producer utilizing publicly available data to screen U.S. coal power plant sites to nuclear-feasible locations. After screening all retired coal sites to a set of 157 potential candidates and screening operating sites to a set of 237 candidates, the study team estimates that 80% of retired and operating coal power plant sites that were evaluated have the basic characteristics needed to be considered amenable to host an advanced nuclear reactor.
This report evaluates a case study for the detailed impacts and potential outcomes from a C2N transition. Based on the nuclear technology choices and sizes evaluated to replace a large coal plant of 1,200 MWe generation capacity at the case study site, nuclear overnight costs of capital could decrease by 15% to 35% when compared to a greenfield construction project, through the reuse of infrastructure from the coal facility. Nuclear replacement designs can have a lower capacity size because nuclear power plants run at higher capacity factors than coal power plants.

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