The intermittency of wind and solar energy can disrupt the dynamic balance utilities must maintain to meet fluctuating demand. This work examines the use of thermal energy storage (TES) to increase the operational flexibility of a baseload power plant and thus incentivize renewable energy and decarbonize the grid. A first and second law thermodynamic model of a nuclear power plant establishes the impacts of TES on the capacity factor and thermal efficiency of the plant. Four storage options, which are distinguished by the location within the cycle where steam is diverted for charging and whether discharge of the TES is via the primary or a secondary Rankine cycle, are considered. TES is compared to steam bypass, which is an alternative to provide baseload flexibility. TES is significantly better than steam bypass. The storage option with the greatest thermodynamic benefit is charged by diverting superheated steam at the outlet of the moisture separator/ reheater (MSR) to the TES. The TES is discharged for peaking power through an optimized secondary cycle. TES increases the capacity factor as much as 15% compared to steam bypass at representative charging mass flowrates. The storage option that diverts steam from the steam generator to charge the TES and discharges the TES to the primary cycle extends the discharge power to a lower range and does not require a secondary cycle. In this case, the capacity factor and efficiency are as much as 8% greater than that of steam bypass.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors gratefully acknowledge the exemplary example that Professor Kreith set for thoughtful contemplation of options and opportunities to expand implementation of renewable energy. University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment (IonE) (Funder ID: 10.13039/100011357).
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