Report Reveals Potential of Small Reactors in Microgrids for Resilient Energy Solutions

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While the modeling for SRs is new and technically challenging, Xendee, in cooperation with INL, has met these challenges and models that are now ready to be used across the industry.”

— Bikash Poudel, Ph.D., Research Engineer, Idaho National Laboratory

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES, August 14, 2023/ — Idaho National Laboratory (INL), in partnership with Xendee Corporation and Reilly Associates, has released a new report titled “Small Reactors in Microgrids: Technology Modeling and Selection.” The report details a comprehensive model for techno-economic analysis that explores the potential of small modular reactors and microreactors, collectively referred to as small reactors (SRs), in microgrids.

The report explains the model and how it can be used for feasibility studies, scenario analysis, and evaluating the benefits of integrating SRs into microgrid systems. Recognizing the diverse configurations of microgrids utilizing SRs, the report emphasizes the importance of considering boundary constraints, load profiles, thermal storage, and interactions with the distribution network. The primary technical design principles of power and energy adequacy, system economics, reliability, and operational resilience of microgrids with SRs are considerations in the model and analytical tools presented in the report.

The researchers developed a reactor model that captures the key characteristics of SRs within the Xendee platform and gives a cost and operational representation of their unique capabilities. Feasibility studies using the model demonstrate its effectiveness in conducting techno-economic analysis for practical microgrid use cases.

Currently, there are over 80 advanced small nuclear reactor designs in conceptualization to advanced development stages. These designs vary in terms of fuel and coolant properties, temperature ratings, refueling cycles, siting approaches, modularity and mobility, power conversion systems, safety functions, and other design attributes. Microgrid planners will need a guide to make selections from among these diverse technologies as they become available. In this report, a preliminary selection guide is provided by aligning the key features of these distinct small reactor designs with the specific requirements of various microgrid applications.

“While the modeling for SRs is new and technically challenging, Xendee, in cooperation with INL, has met these challenges and models that are now ready to be used across the industry,” said Bikash Poudel a Ph.D. Research Engineer, at Idaho National Laboratory.

The report dedicates significant attention to estimating the installation costs of SRs. Factors such as simplified design, reduced plant footprint, smaller exclusion zones, accelerated learning through factory production, shorter construction times, and how the co-location of multiple modules influence the installation costs. Economies of scale, observed in conventional nuclear power plants, also apply to SRs.

“The techno-economic analysis presented in this report underscores the potential of small reactors in microgrids,” said Reynaldo Guerrero, Principal Engineer at Xendee. “Integrating SRs into microgrid systems can enhance resilience, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and pave the way for a net-zero energy future. This report is a valuable resource for stakeholders interested in advancing the deployment of SRs in microgrids.”

“The new small reactor model and the technology selection guidance in this report provide microgrid designers and prospective small reactor vendors comprehensive insights into the benefits of SRs for microgrid applications for resilient communities and other critical missions,” said Tim McJunkin, Director of the Net-Zero Microgrid (NZM) program at INL. “The reactor model offers a comparative analysis of different scenarios and ongoing enhancements in the Xendee platform.”

This report is a product of the NZM Program supported by the Department of Energy’s Office of Electricity Microgrid Program. The NZM Program recognizes SRs as carbon-free energy sources that can facilitate the transition away from carbon-fuel-based generation in microgrids.

About Idaho National Laboratory (INL)

Battelle Energy Alliance manages INL for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy. INL is the nation’s center for nuclear energy research and development and also performs research in each of DOE’s strategic goal areas: energy, national security, science, and the environment. For more information, visit Follow INL on social media: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

About Xendee Corporation

Xendee is an award-winning software platform built to integrate the feasibility analysis, detailed engineering, and operation of Distributed Energy Resources and EV fast-charging infrastructure. This includes the ability to rapidly model EV infrastructure for fleet owners, complex energy systems with up to 25 unique DER technologies, multi-node installations like a military base, and operate either connected to the grid or wholly islanded. Xendee’s techno-economic optimization algorithm can generate an ideal investment solution and operation schedule to meet organizational goals.

Twila Liggitt
Xendee Corporation
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