Load following is the possibility for a power plant to adjust its power output according to the demand and electricity price fluctuation throughout the day. In nuclear power plants, the adjustment is usually done by inserting control rods into the reactor pressure vessel. This operation is inherently inefficient as nuclear power cost structure is composed almost entirely of sunk or fixed costs; therefore, lowering the power output, does not significantly reduce operating expenses and the plant is thermo-mechanical stressed. A more attractive option is to maintain the primary circuit at full power and use the excess power for cogeneration. This paper aims to present the techno-economic feasibility of nuclear power plants load following by cogenerating hydrogen. The paper assesses Small Modular nuclear Reactors (SMRs) coupled with: alkaline water electrolysis, high-temperature steam electrolysis, sulphur-iodine cycle. The analysis shows that in the medium term hydrogen from alkaline water electrolysis can be produced at competitive prices. High-temperature steam electrolysis and even more the sulphur-iodine cycle proved to be attractive because of their capability to produce hydrogen with higher efficiency. However, the coupling of SMRs and hydrogen facilities working at high temperature (about 800 °C) still requires substantial R&D to reach commercialisation.

Load following of Small Modular Reactors (SMR) by cogeneration of hydrogen: A techno-economic analysis

Locatelli, Giorgio;Boarin, Sara;Ricotti, Marco E.
2018-01-01

Abstract

Load following is the possibility for a power plant to adjust its power output according to the demand and electricity price fluctuation throughout the day. In nuclear power plants, the adjustment is usually done by inserting control rods into the reactor pressure vessel. This operation is inherently inefficient as nuclear power cost structure is composed almost entirely of sunk or fixed costs; therefore, lowering the power output, does not significantly reduce operating expenses and the plant is thermo-mechanical stressed. A more attractive option is to maintain the primary circuit at full power and use the excess power for cogeneration. This paper aims to present the techno-economic feasibility of nuclear power plants load following by cogenerating hydrogen. The paper assesses Small Modular nuclear Reactors (SMRs) coupled with: alkaline water electrolysis, high-temperature steam electrolysis, sulphur-iodine cycle. The analysis shows that in the medium term hydrogen from alkaline water electrolysis can be produced at competitive prices. High-temperature steam electrolysis and even more the sulphur-iodine cycle proved to be attractive because of their capability to produce hydrogen with higher efficiency. However, the coupling of SMRs and hydrogen facilities working at high temperature (about 800 °C) still requires substantial R&D to reach commercialisation.
2018
Cogeneration; Economics; Feasibility study; Hydrogen; Load following; SMR; Civil and Structural Engineering; Building and Construction; Pollution; Energy (all); Mechanical Engineering; Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering; Electrical and Electronic Engineering
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