Thermo-economic assessment of flexible nuclear power plants in future low-carbon electricity systems: Role of thermal energy storage

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Title: Thermo-economic assessment of flexible nuclear power plants in future low-carbon electricity systems: Role of thermal energy storage
Authors: Al Kindi, A
Aunedi, M
Pantaleo, A
Strbac, G
Markides, C
Item Type: Journal Article
Abstract: The increasing penetration of intermittent renewable power will require additional flexibility from conventional plants, 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 proposes options for upgrading a 1610-MWel nuclear power plant with the addition of a thermal energy storage system and secondary power generators. The total whole-system benefits of operating the proposed configuration are quantified for several scenarios in the context of the UK’s national electricity system using a whole-system model that minimises the total system costs. The proposed configuration allows the plant to generate up to 2130 MWel during peak load, representing an increase of 32% in nominal rated power. This 520 MWel of additional power is generated by secondary steam Rankine cycle systems (i.e., with optimised cycle thermal efficiencies of 24% and 30%) and by utilising thermal energy storage tanks with a total heat storage capacity of 1950 MWhth. Replacing conventional with flexible nuclear power plants is found to generate whole-system cost savings between £24.3m/yr and £88.9m/yr, with the highest benefit achieved when stored heat is fully discharged in 0.5 h. At an estimated cost of added flexibility of £42.7m/yr, the proposed flexibility upgrades to such nuclear power plants appears to be economically justified with net system benefits ranging from £4.0m/yr to £31.6m/yr for the examined low-carbon scenarios, provided that the number of flexible nuclear plants in the system is small. This suggests that the value of this technology is system dependent, and that system characteristics should be adequately considered when evaluating the benefits of different flexible nuclear plant configurations and choosing the most cost-effective designs and operational characteristics.
Issue Date: 15-Apr-2022
Date of Acceptance: 7-Mar-2022
DOI: 10.1016/j.enconman.2022.115484
ISSN: 0196-8904
Publisher: Elsevier
Journal / Book Title: Energy Conversion and Management
Volume: 258
Copyright Statement: © 2022 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. This manuscript is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Licence
Sponsor/Funder: Engineering & Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC)
Engineering & Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC)
Funder's Grant Number: EP/P004709/1
Keywords: 0906 Electrical and Electronic Engineering
0913 Mechanical Engineering
Publication Status: Published
Embargo Date: 2023-03-23
Article Number: ARTN 115484
Online Publication Date: 2022-03-24
Appears in Collections:Electrical and Electronic Engineering
Chemical Engineering

This item is licensed under a Creative Commons License Creative Commons