Decarbonizing the electric sector: Combining renewable and nuclear energy using thermal storage

Energy Policy
Publication date
This journal article addresses the application of nuclear in a hybrid renewable energy system. A challenge of balancing variable renewables with nuclear is that operating nuclear power plants in load-following modes decreases the plants' annual energy output and increases the levelized cost of energy, decreasing economic competitiveness. One possible solution is to couple thermal energy storage to nuclear power plants. According to the authors, doing so would enable the reactor to remain at nearly constant output while cycling the electrical generator in response to the variability of the net load. The authors conceptually explores combinations of wind, solar and nuclear that could provide a large fraction of a system's electricity, assuming the use of thermal energy storage that would allow nuclear power to provide load following and cycling duty while operating at a constant reactor power output.
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