**Utilities Want to Convert Coal Plants to Nuclear; Skeptics Abound**
**States and utilities are looking at placing small nuclear reactors at former coal plants, but the technology and economics remain unproven**
**By Jennifer Hiller, The Wall Street Journal, Apr. 18, 2022**
**U.S. utilities and startup firms are trying to convince lawmakers, regulators and customers that they can convert aging coal power plants to house small nuclear reactors, a so-far unproven way to deliver electricity.**
**The burgeoning idea would place fleets of small, modular nuclear reactors at or near former coal-fired power plants and is taking hold across the electricity industry. Utility companies see it as a way to repurpose coal plants they are set to retire and are joining with startups developing the reactors, looking to tap into billions of dollars in federal funding....**
**At the earliest, U.S. reactors could be available later this decade. ...** [end quote]
Lots of players, lots of issues. I think it’s a neat idea, but putting it into reality would be a heavy haul.
Just one large nuclear plant is under construction in the U.S.: Southern Co.’s expansion of its Vogtle facility in Georgia, more than five years delayed and billions of dollars over its initial projected cost.
Dozens of small-modular-reactor developers globally are testing designs, and Russia has two SMRs producing electricity, though they took years longer to deliver than expected. And Russia can arrest dissenters while the U.S. will be up to its earlobes in anti-nuke environmentalists and NIMBYs the minute a location is announced.
I don’t see small modular nuclear reactors as a currently investable idea. I’d put it several rungs below crypto currency as a potential investment for me. But I would like to see it succeed because I think the flexibility to back up other non-carbon-based energy sources would be beneficial.