DOE Report Finds Hundreds of Retiring Coal Plant Sites Could Convert to Nuclear

US Office of Nuclear Energy

US Office of Nuclear Energy

September 13, 2022

"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." The report also highlights potential savings for coal plant owners, and benefits for regions: “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.”

These “optimistic” estimates compare well with estimates from TerraPraxis: “Converting these plants to run on Advanced Modular Reactors (AMRs) will deliver a capital cost saving of 28%-35% (compared with a new nuclear plant) and a 9%-28% reduction in the levelized cost of energy.” (WNN, 2022a). This estimate is also consistent (or comes from) analysis based on Kairos Power LLC SMR design (Bartela et al., 2021), and is consistent with C2N#3 approach.

"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." The report also highlights potential savings for coal plant owners, and benefits for regions: “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.”

These “optimistic” estimates compare well with estimates from TerraPraxis: “Converting these plants to run on Advanced Modular Reactors (AMRs) will deliver a capital cost saving of 28%-35% (compared with a new nuclear plant) and a 9%-28% reduction in the levelized cost of energy.” (WNN, 2022a). This estimate is also consistent (or comes from) analysis based on Kairos Power LLC SMR design (Bartela et al., 2021), and is consistent with C2N#3 approach.