What are Integrated Energy Systems?

Power plants exist to make electricity, but most also produce a lot of heat. What if they could use that heat for other processes that require thermal energy? Today, roughly 40% of all energy is wasted. More efficient energy use would be better for the environment and for the plant owner. A power plant being used for both electricity and heat is called an integrated energy system. Integrated energy systems could couple nuclear, renewable and fossil energy sources. Such systems offer efficiencies that can lead to energy independence, economic competitiveness, job creation and smarter use of resources.

What are national labs doing?

The U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Nuclear Energy supports a national laboratory Integrated Energy Systems (IES) Program. The program conducts research, development, and deployment activities to expand the role of nuclear energy beyond supporting the electricity grid. Expanded roles include supplying energy to various industrial, transportation and energy storage applications. Development of integrated energy systems may include multiple energy inputs (e.g., nuclear, renewable, and fossil with carbon capture), multiple energy users (e.g., grid consumers, industrial heat or electricity users, transportation fuel users), and multiple energy storage options (e.g., thermal, electrical and chemical). Focusing IES development on enhanced utilization of low- or non-emitting energy generation options within IES will help the U.S. to achieve the bold goals that have been established by the Biden administration to achieve a 100% clean energy economy (link) and net-zero emissions by 2050 (link​).

Recent Technical Reports

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372 x 481312 KB 10/16/2020 1:48 PMCase Study: Integrated Nuclear-Driven Water Desalination— Providing Regional Potable Water in Arizona
372 x 48149 KB 10/14/2020 3:30 PMFlexible Nuclear Energy for Clean Energy Systems
342 x 44349 KB 10/16/2020 1:44 PMIES 2020 Roadmap
372 x 48152 KB 10/16/2020 1:48 PMProduction Feasability

Call For Papers"Modeling and Assessment of Integrated Multi-Energy Systems"https://www.journals.elsevier.com/advances-in-applied-energy/call-for-papers/modeling-and-assessment-of-integratedPapers due August 15, 2021
Call For Papers"Nuclear Integration and Thermal Energy Storage"https://www.mdpi.com/journal/energies/special_issues/Nuclear_Integration_Thermal_Energy_StoragePapers due August 10, 2021​
Other OpportunitiesThe project will be launched at its first Research Coordination Meeting in March 2022https://www.iaea.org/newscenter/news/new-crp-technical-evaluation-and-optimization-of-nuclear-renewable-hybrid-energy-systems-i32012Proposals due October 1, 2021

​Nuclear and renewables are the two principal options for low [carbon] emission energy generation,” points out the call document, which is entitled ‘Technical Evaluation and Optimisation of Nuclear-Renewable Hybrid Ener​gy Syst​ems’.​

International Atomic Energy Agency announces hybrid nuclear-renewable energy research5/24/2021

​Bloom on Tuesday said the electricity generated by nuclear facilities could produce “cost-effective hydrogen,” including during periods when the power grid has an ample supply of electricity.


​To achieve zero carbon emissions by 2035, we’ll need to deploy a variety of technologies and innovations to decarbonize our entire economy, not just where we get our electricity. Among the innovations being researched and demonstrated are new ways to produce hydrogen without carbon emissions. ​

Hydrogen Can Reduce Carbon Emissions. Here’s How Nuclear Will Help5/11/2021

​Under the right conditions, hydrogen production could offer a lifeline that may prevent some aging U.S. nuclear reactors from retiring early, according to some industry experts.

'Not bonkers': Hydrogen could give US nuclear plants new lease on life4/5/2021

​​For carbon-free hydrogen to play a significant role in decarbonization, it will need to be produced in large quantities at low cost to compete with hydrocarbons. In a future power system heavily dependent on intermittent renewables, hydrogen will likely find economical use in power storage for grid balancing.

Why Hydrogen Needs Nuclear Power To Succeed3/7/2021
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