Technologies for an Economic Low-Carbon Nuclear Renewables Grid: The Case of Firebrick Resistance-Heated Energy Storage
The addition of large quantities of solar or wind to the grid causes electricity price collapse at times of large solar or wind input. For example, wind farms in parts of Iowa have resulted in wholesale electricity prices less than natural gas for over half the year. Electricity price collapse hurts the economics of wind, solar and nuclear and is a major barrier to a low-carbon grid.
One potential solution is Firebrick Resistance Heated Energy Storage (FIRES). FIRES stops price collapse by buying cheap electricity (below the price of natural gas) when available and heats firebrick to high temperatures using electric resistance heaters. Cold air is sent through the hot firebrick to produce hot air that substitutes for air heated by natural gas in industrial furnaces and plants that produce peak electricity. This includes FIRES use in nuclear high-temperature reactor-thermodynamic topping cycles with incremental heat-to- electricity efficiencies of 66 to 70%. FIRES is a low-cost (~$5/kWh) heat-storage technology that sets a minimum price on electricity and thus improves the revenue of nuclear, wind, and solar plants while providing low-cost energy to industry. It can have dramatic impacts on the economics of nuclear, wind, and solar if large quantities of wind and solar are built.
Director & Principle Investigator, High-Temperature Salt-Cooled Reactor Project and University Lead, Idaho National Laboratory Institute for Nuclear Energy and Science (INEST) Nuclear Hybrid Energy Systems program
Dr. Charles Forsberg is the Director and principle investigator of the High-Temperature Salt-Cooled Reactor Project and University Lead for the Idaho National Laboratory Institute for Nuclear Energy and Science (INEST) Nuclear Hybrid Energy Systems program. He is one of several co-principle investigators for the Concentrated Solar Power on Demand (CSPonD) project. He received the 2005 Robert E. Wilson Award from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers for outstanding chemical engineering contributions to nuclear energy, including his work in hydrogen production and nuclear-renewable energy futures. He received the American Nuclear Society special award for innovative nuclear reactor design on salt-cooled reactors and the 2014 Seaborg Award. Dr. Forsberg earned his bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from the University of Minnesota and his doctorate in Nuclear Engineering from MIT. He has been awarded 12 patents and has published over 200 papers.