Replacing Coal Plants

The Changing Role of Coal in Electrical Generation

NuScale VOYGR™ plants are the ideal solution to replace and make the best use of retiring coal and other fossil fuel plants. They provide a clean and economical option. Nuclear provides carbon-free energy and is cost competitive, with more long-term price predictability than natural gas.


There are currently 110 coal plants operating in the U.S. that are planned for retirement by 2040. That represents 120 gigawatts of electricity capacity that could be replaced by 130 12-module VOYGR-12 plants. Transitioning those coal plants to advanced SMRs would generate 1.5 billion hours of construction employment, preserve or create 35,000 power plant jobs, preserve or create 32,000 manufacturing jobs, and eliminate 1 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year.


U.S. Coal Power Plant Retirements

Move the slider beneath the map to view coal plant retirements over time.
  • Active
  • Decommissioned
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NuScale’s scalable power plant solutions can support a variety of needs and geographic areas, and can be located on retiring coal power plant sites. Some coal plant generation infrastructure can be repurposed and reused, such as cooling water delivery systems, demineralized water, potable water, site fire protection, and switchyard, as well as administrative, warehouse, and other existing buildings.

These systems, structures and equipment can be repurposed at significant savings: NuScale conducted a study which estimates that, on average, approximately $100 million of existing coal plant infrastructure could be reused for a NuScale VOYGR power plant. The NuScale plant can utilize existing energy infrastructure without the need to incur the cost of new major infrastructure, such as the installation of a transmission system connection.

A NuScale power plant can also fit within the confines of an existing coal-fired power plant property. By comparison, wind generation requires 94 square miles to generate the 924 MWe that a 12-module NuScale plant generates on just 0.05 square miles, and solar photovoltaic (PV) requires at least 17 square miles.

Once in place, NuScale SMRs can serve as baseload and provide flexible load- following power to complement generation from wind and solar. NuScale SMRs are reliable and resilient, capable of powering mission critical facilities through extended grid outages and disruptions.

With over 100 coal plants retiring in less than 20 years, the clean energy transition threatens to leave many behind. Scalable SMR power plants like NuScale’s are well-positioned to replace retiring coal-fired power plants, creating a significant economic opportunity for communities and coal plant workers. Coal plant workers hold many of the same skills that will be required to operate NuScale VOYGR plants.

A NuScale VOYGR plant represents a century-long investment in a community, including: 1,200 construction jobs over three years with significant needs for heavy equipment operators, welders, electricians, pipefitters and plumbers, and others. By re-using the coal plant site, and retaining the coal plant workforce, there is minimal impact to workers and families while the community that grew up with the coal plant retains the local tax contributions and symbiotic economic ties for another 60 years or more.

Related Publications

NuScale SMR Technology: An Ideal Solution for Repurposing U.S. Coal Plant Infrastructure and Revitalizing Communities - NuScale Power, LLC

New Analysis Shows Economic Benefits in a Coal to Nuclear Transition - NEI

White Paper: Gone with the Steam - ScottMadden Management Consultants