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Thermo-economic assessment of flexible nuclear power plants in the UK’s future low-carbon electricity system: role of thermal energy storage

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Title: Thermo-economic assessment of flexible nuclear power plants in the UK’s future low-carbon electricity system: role of thermal energy storage
Authors: Al Kindi, A
Aunedi, M
Pantaleo, A
Strbac, G
Markides, C
Item Type: Conference Paper
Abstract: Nuclear power plants are commonly operated as baseload units due to their low variable costs, high investment costs and limited ability to modulate their output. The increasing penetration of intermittent renewable power will require additional flexibility from conventional generation units, in order to follow the fluctuating renewable output while guaranteeing security of energy supply. In this context, coupling nuclear reactors with thermal energy storage could ensure a more continuous and efficient operation of nuclear power plants, while at other times allowing their operation to become more flexible and cost-effective. This study considers options for upgrading a 1610-MWel nuclear power plant with the addition of a thermal energy storage system and secondary power generators. The analysed configuration allows the plant to generate up to 2130 MWel during peak load, representing an increase of 32% in nominal rated power. The gross whole-system benefits of operating the proposed configuration are quantified over several scenarios for the UK’s low-carbon electricity system. Replacing conventional with flexible nuclear plant configuration is found to generate system cost savings that are between £24.3m/yr and £88.9m/yr, with the highest benefit achieved when stored heat is fully discharged in 0.5 hours (the default case is 1 hour). At an estimated cost of added flexibility of £42.7m/yr, the proposed flexibility upgrade to a nuclear power plant appears to be economically justified for a wide range of low-carbon scenarios, provided that the number of flexible nuclear units in the system is small.
Issue Date: 10-Oct-2021
Date of Acceptance: 30-Jul-2021
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10044/1/95346
Publisher: SDEWES
Copyright Statement: © 2021 The Author(s).
Sponsor/Funder: Engineering & Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC)
Funder's Grant Number: EP/R045518/1
Conference Name: 16th Conference on Sustainable Development of Energy, Water and Environment Systems
Publication Status: Published
Start Date: 2021-10-10
Finish Date: 2021-10-15
Conference Place: Dubrovnik, Croatia
Appears in Collections:Electrical and Electronic Engineering
Chemical Engineering
Grantham Institute for Climate Change
Faculty of Natural Sciences
Faculty of Engineering