Nuclear-Renewable Hybrid Energy Systems: Opportunities, Interconnections, and Needs

Mark F. Ruth, Owen R. Zinaman, Mark Antkowiak, Richard D. Boardman, Robert S. Cherry, Morgan D. Bazilian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

129 Scopus Citations


As the U.S. energy system evolves, the amount of electricity from variable-generation sources is likely to increase, which could result in additional times when electricity demand is lower than available production. Thus, purveyors of technologies that traditionally have provided base-load electricity - such as nuclear power plants - can explore new operating procedures to deal with the associated market signals. Concurrently, innovations in nuclear reactor design coupled with sophisticated control systems now allow for more complex apportionment of heat within an integrated system such as one linked to energy-intensive chemical processes. This paper explores one opportunity - nuclear-renewable hybrid energy systems. These are defined as integrated facilities comprised of nuclear reactors, renewable energy generation, and industrial processes that can simultaneously address the need for grid flexibility, greenhouse gas emission reductions, and optimal use of investment capital. Six aspects of interaction (interconnections) between elements of nuclear-renewable hybrid energy systems are identified: Thermal, electrical, chemical, hydrogen, mechanical, and information. Additionally, system-level aspects affect selection, design, and operation of this hybrid system type. Throughout the paper, gaps and research needs are identified to promote further exploration of the topic.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)684-694
Number of pages11
JournalEnergy Conversion and Management
StatePublished - Feb 2014

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-6A50-58087


  • Hybrid energy systems
  • Nuclear power
  • Polygeneration systems


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