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), 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).

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


​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

​“We want to produce clean hydrogen,” said Richard Boardman, INL lead for integrated energy systems technology development, in discussing the FuelCell Energy and INL project, funded by DOE’s Nuclear Energy and Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies offices. “We also want to preserve the nuclear industry.”

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Yogyakarta Indonesia6/2/2021
​The International Topical Meeting on High Temperature Reactor Technology is the sole international conference focusing on high-temperature gas-cooled reactors and process heat application technology. 
International Topical Meeting on High Temperature Reactor Technology
Marco Island, FL8/8/2021
Utility Working Conference and Vendor Technology Expo
Utility Working Conference and Vendor Technology Expo