Nuclear Power Reactors Beyond Electricty Generation
International Atomic Energy Agency-IAEA
At the very early stages of its development, nuclear power reactors were conceived to be a viable option not only to provide heat to produce electricity but for providing process heat for many other non-electric applications. There is an increase interest using nuclear power for district heating and cooling, desalination and hydrogen and other synthetic fuels production. The deployment of nuclear cogeneration projects i.e. heat along with electricity generation is a well proved technology with over 750 reactor-years of operating experience. However, only 15% of currently operating nuclear power plants supply heat for limited low-temperature applications (e.g. in form of steam and/or hot water to serve in providing other useful commodities through different industrial facilities including district heating, desalination, paper mills and other process steam/heating applications).
The IAEA conducts ample of activities to support Member States interested in the use of nuclear energy for cogeneration and non-electric applications, including: desalination, district heating, hydrogen production and other industrial processes. The IAEA has developed several tools to elaborate on the feasibility and techno-economics of nuclear cogeneration plants, mainly for desalination, district heating, and hydrogen production applications. These tools are the Hydrogen Economic Evaluation Programme (HEEP), the Desalination Economic Evaluation Programme (DEEP), and the Desalination Thermodynamics Optimization Programme (DE-TOP). In addition, the IAEA developed toolkits on nuclear desalination and nuclear hydrogen production to provide information on the status of related technologies as well as the conducted and considered activities related to these topics. This presentation discusses the aspects of using nuclear energy beyond electric power production towards non-electric applications, and highlights the recent and upcoming publications, available tools and toolkits developed by the IAEA to provide support to Member States with more understanding on the economic viability of nuclear cogeneration options
Toward the specifications of a “flexible” nuclear reactor: approach through power system
1CEA, DEN, DER; 2Univ. Grenoble Alpes, CNRS; 3CEA, LITEN
Nuclear power plants (NPPs) were originally designed to produce electricity using the base-load operating mode (nominal power rate) in order to optimize economic efficiency. In parallel, power demand and supply must be balanced at all time, while power system is by nature highly stressed. The growing-up penetration of intermittent Renewable Energies (RE) in power systems will intensify this constrain by introducing intermittency in the production. Therefore, load-following mode of NPPs (supply adjustment according to grid demand) is commonly used to adapt the production to the daily consumption. However, this load-following operating mode of NPPs may not be sufficient enough to stabilize power system and eventually replace thermal power plants which are generally used during pic-load or to balance high fluctuations of RE.
This paper will present the limited contribution of actual NPPs to ensure the stability of a postulated electrical grid in case of typical electric disturbances including load variations. A simplified power grid with among other 4 equivalent power sources will be used in order to highlight existing flexibility capabilities of actual nuclear production sites and to obtain a realistic model of the current French NPPs. This network will be implemented in the electrical dynamic simulation software PowerFactory. RE will be added to this grid to be representative of a potential decarbonized French grid: the part of RE will be increased while the number of thermal plants will be consequently reduced in order to constrain the power system and thereafter potentially reach the grid constraints of the NPP. Different scenarios will be considered with a specific focus on the stability of the grid. To avoid the use of coal or gas energy, the need of flexible nuclear reactors will then be assessed depending on the proportion of different sources in the electrical grid. Perspectives will be to design it.
Requirements and Technologies for Japan’s Future Nuclear Energy Systems (JNext)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
In order to secure energy independence and mitigate climate change, Japan’s Ministry of Economy and Industry stated the country will return to 20-22% nuclear energy for electricity production for 2030 and beyond. This goal requires building new nuclear capacity in the next decade. We identify three missions for nuclear energy systems in the Japanese energy market: (1) zero emission, dispatchable, baseload electricity to replace retiring coal capacity and complement variable generation from solar and wind; (2) flexible co-generation of electricity and heat at industrial sites to support the production of valuable products, including hydrogen for transportation; and (3) generation of power and heat for niche markets such as remote communities/islands, mines, military bases, district heating, and data centers. We quantify the economic requirements (i.e., cost competitiveness with liquified natural gas, low operation and maintenance cost), functional and operational capabilities (i.e., load following, grid resilience), and safety and security requirements (i.e., insensitivity to external events, emergency planning zone limited to the site boundary) for each mission, and assess a broad range of nuclear technologies against these requirements, i.e., light water reactors, high temperature gas reactors, molten salt reactors, heat pipe reactors and liquid metal fast reactors. Three of them best satisfy the above missions, respectively: (1) a small modular (~300 MWe) boiling-water reactor for flexible electricity generation, (2) a high-temperature gas-cooled reactor for co-generation of electricity and heat at industrial sites, and (3) a heat pipe micro-reactor(~10 MWe) for niche markets. We deem that such technologies could be deployed commercially in Japan by 2030, and have a high likelihood of meeting the important requirements.