1.2:  Replacing Coal with Nuclear
Replacing coal boilers with molten salt steam generators
Replacing coal with nuclear is an obvious move.  They both make massive amounts of electricity 24/7/365.

Molten salt nuclear reactors are very different from today's water reactors.

The largest 2% of the coal power plants - 1,200 of ≈ 60,000 - are making most of coal's CO2.

The Supersized 1,200.  Who they are and where they are:   1200 Largest Coal Power Plants - Countries and Locations .xls  (spreadsheet @ 1.095)

As you can see from the diagram on the upper left, about 30% of ALL the world's Global Warming CO2 is coming from about 2% of the world's coal burning power plants. 

Where you can find out about the world's power plants and the Global Warming they make.

The world's power plant population count is 215,000 generating units at 102,000 power plant sites in 230+ countries according to Platts, below.
Platts provides many technical and administrative details about the world's power plants but
does not provide Global Warming emissions information.

  Data from CARMA   ( )

CARMA asked their logo and link be inserted, something I'm happy to do.


Data bases about the world's coal burning power plants are maintained by   and .  
Platt's is a commercial database covering all electricity generating stations of every type. 
CARMA's database is limited to smoke emissions from coal burning power plants.

In 2007, your author used Microsoft's Excel to sort and plot the world's 32,000 largest coal burning power stations by emissions. 
Expecting a normal distribution slope, I was shocked to see the curve on the above right emerge. 

It depicts a situation where only a very few - the largest 2% - are making perhaps 80% of the world's coal emissions while the vast majority of the world's coal power plant population - the 98% smaller power plants - are almost innocent bystanders.

If ever there was an easy target for big-time Climate Change remediation this is it.

The idea of replacing coal boilers with small nuclear steam generators has been around for a long while. They were called "Hook-ons" and an excellent article about four early examples was written by Will Davis.   Hook-ons.pdf    (Used here with permission.)

There are also examples of nuclear reactor power plants being converted into fossil fuel power plants. Ft. St. Vrain, Colorado, comes to mind. 

How did so many very large coal burning power plants happen to be built at the same time?

Internationalizing nuclear electricity technology had been advocated as early as 1953 in Eisenhower's "Atoms for Peace" program. .

Later, both sides of the Cold War used assistance with nuclear power plants to influence uncommitted third-world countries to align themselves with one side or the other. 

The  "BONUS" project in Puerto Rico was one from the United States, the Juragua plant  in nearby Cuba is an example of Soviet foreign aid.

By 1980, many second and third world countries had plans for nuclear power stations to provide additional electricity to their major population centers.  The 1979 nuclear accident at Three Mile Island and the 1986 nuclear accident at Chernobyl gave the anti-nuclear environmentalists a strong argument to switch to coal power plants instead.


Checking Out The Feasibility Of Converting 2% Of The World's Power Plants

Since large coal power plant equipment is typically made by a few major international companies in leading industrial countries, just as it is with cars, trucks, and airplanes, the world's coal power plants are more alike than they are different. 

By checking out the "Dirty Dozen" in detail, we would likely encounter over 95% of all the engineering problems we might encounter in the 1,200 power plants indicated in the Excel spreadsheet cited above.

Candidate criteria would include age, space, access to coal boiler discharge piping.

H. L. Culbreath Bayside power plant, Tampa Florida. This old coal power plant was converted from coal to combined cycle natural gas in 2004.
A natural gas turbine + heat recovery steam generator module is about the same size as an underground molten salt nuclear reactor module.
Note the long steam pipes connecting the steam generators to the old coal power plant.
It now supplies Florida's West Coast electrical grid with about 1,800 megaWatts of low CO2 electricity. 

Clearly, mankind's No 1 environmental task is to convert the world's largest coal boilers to nuclear steam generators.

It's not that much more work to clean up a big CO
2 producing coal power plant than it is to clean up a small, CO2-meaningless coal power plant. 
Why aren't we just cleaning up power plants instead of fooling around with windmills, solar cells, and all this international governmental posturing about who's Cleaner and Greener?


1,200 of the world's approximately 60,000 coal burning electricity plants are responsible for about 30% of ALL fossil fuel Climate Change.

Repowering this 2% of all coal power plants with nuclear would be a quick and relatively easy way to give Climate Change a big setback.

Here is what this this web site is suggesting: Pick the low-hanging CO2 fruit first - the world's easy, cheap, and relatively young 1,200 mega-coal plants. 

The largest is Taichung, Taiwan. This web page describes how it's coal burning boilers can be replaced with molten salt nuclear steam generators.  Taichung  >


Next >       Replacing Coal