PPL subsidiaries expand DOE collaboration on nuclear feasibility

Published on June 28, 2024 by Liz Carey

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On Wednesday, PPL Corporation subsidiaries Louisville Gas and Electric Company and Kentucky Utilities Company said they would be working with the U.S. Department of Energy on a nuclear feasibility study.

The research, funded by a DOE grant, will build on earlier assessments of nuclear feasibility at the site of an existing Kentucky coal-fired power plant and will explore additional locations and partnerships to support nuclear energy in the commonwealth. Officials said the study will further assess the feasibility of new nuclear at company sites if such technology should become commercially viable.

“We understand that achieving our goal of net-zero carbon emissions will be challenging, and we continue to pursue an all-of-the-above technology strategy to replace aging generation with a cleaner, more diverse energy mix capable of safely, reliably and affordably meeting our customers’ future energy needs and supporting continued economic growth,” Vincent Sorgi, president and chief executive officer of PPL, said.

PPL’s Research and Development team said it plans to partner with X-Energy, a nuclear design engineering company, and Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN), a U.S. Department of Energy initiative.

“Nuclear energy is a carbon-free solution that has the potential to meet our customers’ needs and support manufacturing and data center growth, particularly if technology such as nuclear small modular reactors (SMRs) become more cost-competitive,” Sorgi said. “These in-depth studies are important to determining whether nuclear energy at our locations may be a viable solution moving forward.”

Previously PPL and GAIN studied whether the company’s Ghent, Ky., facility was suitable for a nuclear SMR plant. They determined the site was suitable, but would have potential size constraints for a larger traditional nuclear reactor. The second phase of the study will explore alternative locations and industrial partnerships that could enable energy-intensive customers, like manufacturers and data centers, to reach their zero-carbon objectives, officials said.