Dispatch Optimization, System Design and Cost Benefit Analysis of a Nuclear Reactor with Molten Salt Thermal Storage

Gabriel Soto, Ben Lindley, Ty Neises, Cory Stansbury, Michael Wagner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus Citations


Variable renewable energy availability has increased the volatility in energy prices in most markets. Nuclear power plants, with a large ratio of capital to variable costs, have historically operated as base load energy suppliers but the need for more flexible operation is increasing. We simulate the techno-economic performance of a 950 MWt nuclear power plant, based on the Westinghouse lead-cooled fast reactor, coupled with molten salt thermal storage as a method for flexible energy dispatch. We use the System Advisor Model to model the nuclear reactor thermal power input and power cycle operating modes. We combine this robust engineering model with a mixed-integer linear program model for optimized dispatch scheduling. We then simulate the coupled nuclear and thermal storage system under different market scenarios with varying price volatility. We find that the coupled plant outperforms the base plant under markets where energy price peaks fluctuate by a factor of two or more about the mean price. We show that a calculated power purchase agreement price for the plant improves by up to 10% when operating under California energy market conditions. Sensitivity analysis on the thermal storage cost shows that the optimal design remains unchanged even when doubling costs.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number3599
Number of pages23
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5700-82472


  • advanced nuclear
  • dispatch optimization
  • lead-cooled fast reactor
  • molten salt
  • System Advisor Model
  • thermal energy storage


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