Integrating Nuclear Power and Renewables
NuScale’s innovative small modular reactor (SMR) has unparalleled safety and reliability features, can be fully factory-made, and offers scalable power based on need— an unprecedented capability in the nuclear energy industry. Our technology can fit more locations and meet the energy needs of any area, rural or urban, while complementing any intermittent generating periods of renewables like wind and solar. This makes it possible for regions with smaller electrical grids and limited infrastructure to add new electrical capacity in appropriate increments and consider siting NuScale plants at a broader range of distributed locations.
Wind and solar energy have diurnal (daily) cycles, which are processes that typically reoccur each day within about a 24-hour period. In the case of solar, we can see from the graphic below that additional factors (e.g., sunny day, cloudy day) can shift the diurnal cycle.
As the graphic also illustrates, a NuScale power plant can provide always-on baseload power—but that’s not all. In addition to being able to tailor output to changing demand on the electrical grid, a NuScale plant can adapt to changing weather and seasonal conditions. Solar photovoltaic (PV) arrays generate different results depending on weather, latitude, and season. As it travels around the Sun throughout the year, the tilt of the Earth’s axis shifts, resulting in the different seasons we experience depending on where we are in the world. This tilt also influences the effects of incoming solar energy on atmospheric and surface temperatures. Wind power is also affected by both seasonal and daily weather patterns, the latter of which is also demonstrated in the diurnal cycle graphic above.
One of the reasons that NuScale’s SMR technology is so well suited for integration with renewables like wind and solar is because our SMRs have unique capabilities, allowing them to vary output as necessary to support system demand as capacity varies on the system from intermittent generation. This feature is known as “load following” and there are three means to change power output from a NuScale SMR plant:
- Dispatchable modules: Taking one or more modules offline for extended periods of low grid demand or sustained renewables (e.g., wind) output,
- Power Maneuverability: Maneuvering reactor power for one or more modules during intermediate periods to compensate for hourly changes in demand or renewables generation, or
- Turbine Bypass: Bypassing the module’s steam turbine directly to the condenser for rapid responses to load or to intermittent generation from renewables.
This capability, called NuFollow™, is unique to NuScale and holds the promise of expanding the deployment of wind and solar renewables without backup from fossil-fueled generating sources, such as natural gas-fueled, combined cycle gas turbines (CCGTs). By adding the reliable, safe, and abundant carbon-free energy that a NuScale plant can provide to complement solar and wind, we can make a real difference in mitigating climate change. This remains a top priority for our customer base, both across the U.S. and around the world.