Full Title: Investigating Benefits and Challenges of Converting Retiring Coal Plants into Nuclear Plants
Author(s): US Department of Energy
Publisher(s): US Department of Energy
Publication Date: September 13, 2022
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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?
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. In the case study replacing coal capacity with 924 MWe of nuclear capacity, the study team found regional economic activity could increase by as much as $275 million and add 650 new, permanent jobs to the region of analysis.