The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has issued a call for research proposals, into hybrid nuclear and renewable energy systems. This call falls under the IAEA’s Coordinated Research Project (CRP).
“Nuclear and renewables are the two principal options for low [carbon] emission energy generation,” points out the call document, which is entitled ‘Technical Evaluation and Optimisation of Nuclear-Renewable Hybrid Energy Systems’. “However, synergies among these resources have yet to be fully exploited, and advantages of directly integrating these generation options are only now being explored for both the [electricity] grid and to provide energy for other commodity products.”
The document noted that nuclear (and coal, natural gas and hydroelectric) power plants were able to adjust to changing demand in electricity (they were ‘dispatchable’ energy generation sources). But some renewables, most obviously wind and solar, were ‘variable’ sources, because of their dependence on weather conditions or the time of day.
“Analysis, leading to the optimised integration of the low emission generation options is necessary to transition to sustainable energy systems,” notes the document. “Nuclear-renewable hybrid energy systems (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.”
The research proposals could, regarding nuclear technology, consider water cooled reactors, advanced water and non-water cooled reactors, and the application of these technologies to a variety of energy needs. Regarding renewable, the research proposals could include (but were not limited to) biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar, other water technologies and wind power, as well as associated energy storage systems.
“The CRP is aimed at further advancing the state-of-knowledge pertaining to modelling, simulation, and analysis approaches for design and optimisation of nuclear-renewable HES and is intended to support development of data and analysis with the goal to advance these systems toward commercial deployment,” explained the document. The knowledge so obtained would be shared by the IAEA among all its member states. The project was expected to start in January next year.