Eleven states have publicly expressed interest in repurposing their coal-fired plant sites with nuclear energy, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

These states include: Arizona, Colorado, Kentucky, Maryland, Montana, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Utah, West Virginia, Wyoming and Wisconsin. 

Notably, TerraPower plans to build its Natrium reactor near a retiring coal plant in Kemmerer, Wyoming.

A 2022 DOE report found that more than 300 existing and retired coal power plant sites could convert to nuclear, dramatically increasing dispatchable, carbon-free energy as the country strives to meet its net-zero emissions goal by 2050. The department said each plant could match the size of the site being converted and help increase nuclear capacity by more than 250 GW — nearly tripling its current capacity of 95 GW. 

The DOE report also found that new nuclear plants could save up to 35% on construction costs depending on how much of the existing site assets could be repurposed from retired coal power plants. These assets include the existing land, the coal plant’s electrical equipment (transmission connection, switchyard, etc.) and civil infrastructure, such as roads and buildings.

DOE’s Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) is conducting three feasibility studies to assess different aspects of repurposing coal power plant sites with nuclear power. 

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