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New CRP: Technical Evaluation and Optimization of Nuclear-Renewable Hybrid Energy Systems (I32012)

New Coordinated Research Project

Under a new IAEA Coordinated Research Project, the IAEA will foster wide-ranging graduate training programmes on the technical aspects of nuclear-renewable hybrid energy systems, implemented for students from countries embarking on nuclear power. (Photo: H. ur Rehman/IAEA) 

The IAEA is launching a new Coordinated Research Project (CRP) to support Member States in further advancing the state-of-knowledge pertaining to modelling, simulation, and analysis approaches for the design and optimization of nuclear-renewable hybrid energy systems (HES). This is intended to support the development of data and analysis, with the goal to advance these systems toward commercial deployment.

The IAEA provides a diverse range of support to help Member States ensure the safe, secure, and reliable performance of today’s global fleet of operating nuclear power plants. This includes exploring non-electric applications to sustainably deliver broad sector decarbonization and helping ensure informed policy decision making around the nexus of energy, climate and economic optimisation.

Nuclear and renewables are the two principal, currently available options for low emission energy generation. However, synergies among these resources have yet to be fully exploited, and advantages of directly integrating these generation options are only now being explored.

Coal, natural gas, hydro and nuclear power plants are generally considered dispatchable sources of energy generation, meaning they can adjust to changing electricity demand. In contrast, some renewable energy sources such as wind and solar are variable due to their dependence on the weather and time of day. Analysis leading to the optimized integration of the low emission generation options is necessary to transition to sustainable energy systems. Nuclear-renewable HES consider opportunities to couple these resources to leverage the benefits of each technology and their mode of operation on the system to provide reliable, sustainable, and affordable electricity to the grid and to provide low emission energy to other energy use sectors.

Considering the novelty of nuclear-renewable HES, a full set of technical constraints and representative energy system figure-of-merit (FOM) have yet to be established. Appropriately defined FOM and constraints are necessary to assess and evaluate the role of nuclear-renewable HES, operating alongside independent generators, in current and future energy systems. Significant improvements in methodologies and simulation tools are necessary to allow inclusion of multi-input and multi-output systems, applications, and products in the analysis while keeping the analysis tractable. Specifically, the CRP will look at the following: advancements in the analyses of how coupling nuclear and renewable systems impacts the current fleet of operating reactors; the anticipated impact on or from advanced and innovative reactor designs, and consideration, as appropriate, of other relevant technologies such as energy storage and carbon capture, use and storge, in different regions as well as developed and developing countries.

Findings from this CRP will be shared with Member States through various activities, including but not limited to, participation in training workshops, participation in case studies, and training early-career and female engineers and scientists, by establish opportunities for MS/PhD research. .

CRP Overall Objectives

This CRP is aimed at bringing together the current state-of-knowledge on simulation, analysis, optimization, and potential deployment of nuclear-renewable HES that has been accumulated by experienced researchers, analysts, and industry. It aims to increase understanding of the role, performance, and impact of nuclear-renewable HES in meeting current and future energy demands.

Specifically, the objective is to technically evaluate and optimize the options for coordinated use of nuclear and renewable energy and ultimately their tight integration in HES.

Specific CRP Research Objectives

  1. Review methodologies and data available for technical analysis of nuclear - renewable HES configurations to evaluate the role(s) and potential opportunities of these novel systems in future energy sectors — both grid and non-grid energy demands and carbon emission targets;
  2. Identify gaps and applicability of available methodologies, tools and data to assess technical aspects of nuclear-renewable HES alongside traditional generators;
  3. Develop case studies to analyse and assess the impacts of integrating renewables with nuclear power plants, on both, the current fleet of large unit reactors and on the design of advanced and innovative reactor concepts;
  4. Define high level recommendations and outline the best practices in order to establish guidance for technical analysis and optimisation of nuclear - renewable HES;
  5. Train early-career and female engineers and scientists and establish opportunities for MS/PhD research; develop and conduct workshops and training courses on nuclear - renewable HES; particularly encourage female students to participate in graduate studies in the CRP framework R&D areas to apply for the IAEA MSCFP.

The project will be launched at its first Research Coordination Meeting in March 2022.

How to join the CRP

Interested institutions should submit their Proposal for a Research Contract or Agreement by 1 October 2021 directly to the IAEA’s Research Contracts Administration Section, using the proposal templates on the CRA web pages.

For further information related to this CRP, potential applicants can contact the Nuclear Power Technology Development Section, at the IAEA Department of Nuclear Energy.

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