- Investigates causes tending to destroy or impair the free-market system.
- Explores and develops market-based solutions.
We will analyze the national potential for a coal-to-small modular reactor (SMR) transition, and develop guidelines for a pilot program to engage potential host communities.
We developed a map and dataset of coal plants retiring in the US after 2020, then identified those communities most amenable to a potential SMR replacement and quantified the total market size. We evaluated potential communities based on public opinion of new nuclear, along with environmental justice indicators, and state level incentives for new nuclear. Our final report includes analysis of how much re-training is involved for the different types of jobs at a new nuclear power plant, along with the thousands of temporary jobs created during the construction of the nuclear plant and decommissioning of the coal plant.
Since the completion of the study (uploaded as an attached file), we have continued to engage on this topic with a variety of stakeholders. On the basis of the report, co-author and Good Energy Collective Executive Director Jessica Lovering was invited to provide an overview of nuclear for the West Virginia Rivers Coalition in partnership with the Ohio River Valley Institute. The presentation was well-received and covered in the local press, and contributed toward the West Virginia legislature's overturning of its longstanding restrictions on new nuclear power construction, as indicated by Giving Green in its deep-dive report on Good Energy Collective (https://www.givinggreen.earth/mitigation-research/good-energy-collective%3A-deep-dive).
We are continuing to build on the progress of this study by planning out the conduct of on-the-ground community engagements on coal-to-nuclear transitions in a handful of communities facing the closure of coal-fired power plants. These engagements will occur in Q3 and Q4 of 2023.
Coal plants are retiring across the U.S. mainly because of cheap natural gas prices. It was federal investment in hydraulic fracturing that led to this boom of natural gas production. Similarly, federal and state governments should make smart investments to spur the commercial SMR market as a way to demonstrate this new technology, support struggling communities in coal country, and eliminate local air and water pollution. Coal communities are worried that they will be left behind by a Green New Deal, but a Coal-to-SMR program could address the market failure of an unequal distribution of benefits from a clean energy transition.
Broadly, this project will have a national scope as we evaluate the market size of a potential Coal-to-SMR program, but we will also be identifying communities that will be a good fit for the first SMR demonstrations. We will study these communities in more detail and look to local policies and economic needs to understand how to develop a successful pilot program.
Our results will be published in a final report that we will make available on our website. We will develop a media strategy for the report's release that could include a panel discussion, meetings will policy-makers, and media interviews.
(Check sent: 10/29/2020)