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 4/22/2020 1:00 PMCase Study: Integrated Nuclear-Driven Water Desalination— Providing Regional Potable Water in Arizona
372 x 481187 KB 4/22/2020 1:05 PMDesign and Operation of a Sensible Heat Peaking Unit for Small Modular Reactors
372 x 48152 KB 5/12/2020 10:21 AMProduction Feasability
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372 x 48176 KB 4/22/2020 1:11 PMSustainability Development Platform for Nuclear-Renewable Energy Integration: Environmental Impacts, Economics, and Socio-Political Implications


​​Flexible Nuclear Energy for Clean Energy Systems is a report that provides a collection of technical analyses that, in the aggregate, demonstrate the current and potential future roles for nuclear energy in providing power system flexibility to meet energy demands. While the data and analysis presented may reveal differences between sections due to individual authors’ perspectives or focus, collectively they seek to explore the value of flexible nuclear energy.​


If you are interested in energy and climate news, you’ve probably noticed a significant uptick in headlines featuring hydrogen as a potential replacement for fossil fuels.

Here’s Why Hydrogen Is a Great Partner for Nuclear—and the Planet8/20/2020

​Competition from low-cost natural gas and the falling price of renewables is forcing the nuclear industry to find a paying sideline for existing and planned plants to ensure they are economically viable.

Nuclear looks to hydrogen to pay the bills8/18/2020

​Our power grid is changing. As renewable energy generation increases, our baseload electricity sources — like nuclear, coal and natural gas — are often being asked to operate in ways they weren’t designed. Take nuclear reactors for example, they generally do not ramp up or down quickly due to the financial benefits of operating at maximum output. 

Integrated Energy Systems: Getting More From Our Nuclear Workhorses8/13/2020

The US nuclear fleet must adapt to the growing renewable generation being added to the electric grid and the resulting power price decline by operating flexibly and making hydrogen, industry officials said during a virtual plenary session of the Utility Working Conference held by the American Nuclear Society Aug. 11.​

US nuclear fleet must adapt by operating flexibly, making hydrogen: officials8/11/2020
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Yogyakarta Indonesia10/6/2020
​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
Nice, France10/12/2020
28th IAEA Fusion Energy Conference (FEC 2020)
28th IAEA Fusion Energy Conference (FEC 2020)