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REopt Optimizes Nuclear-Renewable Hybrid Energy Systems

A nuclear subsystem (includes nuclear reactors) feeds into thermal energy storage and and industrial process subsystem; a renewable subsystem (includes concentrating solar power, wind, and pv solar) feeds into electrical energy storage, an industrial process, and the grid.

A generalized nuclear-renewable hybrid energy system, including system boundaries and grid linkage. Illustration adapted from Shannon M. Bragg-Sitton and Richard Boardman, Idaho National Laboratory

NREL used the REopt™ model to optimize the design and operational schedule of several nuclear-renewable hybrid energy systems. One would be used to produce a synthetic gasoline drop-in liquid fuel, a second would power a desalination plant, several more provide heat to industrial processes, and others electrolyze water to produce hydrogen. Nuclear-renewable hybrid energy systems are a technology that can generate very low-carbon, dispatchable electricity and provide very low-carbon thermal energy for industrial processes at a lower cost than alternative energy sources.

REopt was used to optimize the subsystem sizes and dispatch strategy to maximize net present value of the nuclear-renewable hybrid systems under a variety of electricity price vectors and thermal energy prices. Electricity price vectors were generated using the PLEXOS production cost model with a high penetration of renewable generators. NREL also performed sensitivity checks on many of the parameters to indicate impacts of uncertainty and validate conclusions.


Nuclear and PV systems contribute electricity to a desalination plant (converts salt water to potable water) and to the power grid.

A desalination nuclear-renewable hybrid energy system uses electricity from a nuclear reactor and solar photovoltaics. Illustration from Mark Ruth, NREL

Related Stories

JISEA technical report: The Economic Potential of Nuclear-Renewable Hybrid Energy Systems Producing Hydrogen

JISEA technical report: The Economic Potential of Three Nuclear-Renewable Hybrid Energy Systems Providing Thermal Energy to Industry

JISEA technical report: The Economic Potential of Two Nuclear-Renewable Hybrid Energy Systems


Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Office of Strategic Programs

Key Partners

Idaho National Laboratory


Dylan Cutler