New Build

Coal-To-Nuclear / New Reactors Would Create High-Paying Jobs And Spur Millions In Host Community Investment, Says DOE

By David Dalton
12 April 2024

Hundreds of US sites could be converted to nuclear

New Reactors Would Create High-Paying Jobs And Spur Millions In Host Community Investment, Says DOE
US coal-fired power plant Bowen in the state of Georgia is one of the largest in North America. Image courtesy Creative Commons.

Building new nuclear power plants on coal sites would create additional higher paying jobs at the plant, hundreds of additional jobs locally and spur millions of dollars in increased revenues and economic activity in the host community, an information guide by the US Department of Energy says.

The guide, produced for communities considering hosting a nuclear plant on a retiring coal site, says that with planning and support for training, most workers at an existing coal plant should be able to transition to work at a replacement nuclear plant.

“Coal-to-nuclear transitions could dramatically increase the supply of reliable, clean electricity to the grid and make progress toward the nation’s goal of net-zero emissions by 2050,” the DOE said in a statement.

This guide builds on a 2022 DOE study that found hundreds of US coal power plant sites across the country could be converted to nuclear power plant sites.

The study said the coal-to-nuclear transition could help increase nuclear capacity in the US to more than 250 GW. The existing fleet currently has a combined capacity of 95 GW and supplies half of the nation’s emissions-free electricity, the DOE said.

TerraPower, the nuclear technology company founded by Bill Gates, recently submitted a construction permit application for a commercial advanced reactor that it plans to build at a coal site in Kemmerer, Wyoming.

In Europe, Slovenia became the fourth country after Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic to receive US Project Phoenix funding to assess the potential for small modular reactors in replacing coal-fired generation plants.

Project Phoenix was launched in November 2022 to help coal reliant countries reduce the impact of climate change.

The US-based Electric Power Research Institute said in a report last year that existing coal plants can provide key benefits and opportunities that make them “a compelling option” for the deployment of nuclear generation, but prominent issues around perceived risk and nuclear waste management need to be resolved.

The report said repurposing a coal plant’s infrastructure could be an option to help sustain coal communities while providing a carbon-free source of generation through nuclear power.

Pen Use this content