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  • Writer's pictureLucas Nava

Huff: 'This is an important opportunity to help communities around the country preserve jobs'

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The U.S. Department of Energy published a report revealing the potential hundreds of U.S. coal power plant sites could have if converted into nuclear power plant sites.

The release states the conversions could create new jobs, increase the sites' economic benefits and significantly improve their environmental impact, working towards the country's goal of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050, according to a Sept. 13 news release.

“This is an important opportunity to help communities around the country preserve jobs, increase tax revenue and improve air quality,” Nuclear Energy Assistant Secretary Dr. Kathryn Huff said in the release. “As we move to a clean energy future, we need to deliver place-based solutions and ensure an equitable energy transition that does not leave communities behind.”

There were 157 retired coal plants and 237 operating coal plants identified as potential candidates for conversion, with about 80% identified as decent candidates for the hosting of advanced reactors smaller than the gigawatt scale, according to the release. A coal-to-nuclear transition could improve air quality in communities across the U.S., with the case study revealing regional greenhouse gas emissions could fall by 86% when coal plants are replaced by nuclear plants, an action equivalent to the removal of more than 500,000 gasoline-powered passenger vehicles off of the streets.

The release reported conversions could also increase local employment rates and economic activity. The study found 650 permanent positions could be created per region. Furthermore, the reuse of coal plant infrastructure would significantly lower the cost of nuclear plant construction compared to building an entirely new facility.

Similarly, the city of Valmy, Nev., plans to replace a coal plant with a solar power plant, according to a January NV Energy report.

The case study was conducted by the Argonne National Laboratory, the Idaho National Laboratory and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the news release reported. It was sponsored by the DOE's Office of Nuclear Energy.

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