Latest News

Retiring coal-fired power plants need a replacement. These Western states may have the answer

April 25, 2023

Utah, Wyoming among the states pursuing this power to replace coal

By Amy Joi O’Donoghue

Facing political pressure and stringent new regulations for aging coal-fired power plants, many utility companies around the country are looking at the future with a new set of glasses that demands an alternative that will provide reliable, recurring power to the electrical grid.

Enter small nuclear reactors under development to provide base-load, carbon-free emissions to fill the gaps where intermittent renewable energy like wind and solar cannot.

In the West, Wyoming is pursuing TerraPower’s Natrium reactor for a site at a retiring coal plant in Kemmerer, supported by funding from the U.S. Department of Energy to demonstrate the technology of an advanced reactor. The Natrium technology is a 345- megawatt sodium fast reactor with molten salt energy storage.

These are not your grandparents’ nuclear reactors. They occupy a much smaller footprint, can ramp up quickly or shut down with speed and use passive cooling systems. In addition, they are far less vulnerable to natural events like earthquakes or other disasters, according to the DOE.

Scott Anderson, researcher, prepares samples in a hot cell in the Materials and Fuels Complex at the Idaho National Laboratory in a remote area west of Idaho Falls, Idaho, on Wednesday, April 5, 2023. The controls he is using maneuver tools like grips, saws and polishers inside the hot cell. | Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
Scroll to Top