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RSS FeedsEnergies, Vol. 15, Pages 5830: Repowering a Coal Power Unit with Small Modular Reactors and Thermal Energy Storage (Energies)

 
 

11 august 2022 16:13:30

 
Energies, Vol. 15, Pages 5830: Repowering a Coal Power Unit with Small Modular Reactors and Thermal Energy Storage (Energies)
 


In the first months of 2022, there was a sharp turn in the energy policy of the European Union, initially spurred by increasing energy prices and further escalated by Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine. Further transformation of the energy system will likely be accompanied by the gradual abandonment of natural gas from Russia and an increase of renewable and nuclear energy. Such a transition will not only increase energy security, but also accelerate the pace at which greenhouse gas emissions are reduced in Europe. This could be achieved more effectively if some of the new nuclear energy capacity is optimized to play an increased balancing role in the energy system, thus allowing for deeper market penetration of intermittent renewable energy sources with a reduced need for flexible fossil backup power and storage. A double effect of decarbonization can be achieved by investments in nuclear repowering of coal-fired units, with the replacement of coal boiler islands with nuclear reactor systems. Repowered plants, in turn, operate flexibly via integration with thermal energy storage systems using molten salt. This paper presents the results of a technoeconomic analysis for three cases of nuclear repowering of a 460 MW supercritical coal-fired unit in Poland. The first reference case assumes that three reactors are replacing the existing coal boilers, while the second reference leverages two reactors. The third uses two nuclear reactors equipped with a molten salt thermal energy storage system as a buffer for the heat produced by the reactor system. The analysis of the third case demonstrates how the TES system’s capacity varies from 200 to 1200 MWh, highlighting the possibility of obtaining a high degree of flexibility of the nuclear unit due to TES system without significant drops in the efficiency of electricity production. The economic analysis demonstrates that integration with TES systems may be beneficial if the current levels of daily variation in electricity prices are maintained. For current market conditions, the most attractive investment is a case with two reactors and a TES system capacity of 800 MWh; however, with the increasing price volatility, this grows to a larger capacity of 1000 or 1200 MWh.


 
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