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Assessing the Competitiveness of Nuclear Energy in the U.S. Grid Markets

Nuclear energy plays an important role in the U.S. energy mix that will likely need to be maintained or strengthened to achieve deep greenhouse gas reduction. However, maintaining the nuclear portfolio is becoming increasingly challenging in the current U.S. energy market, as the low price of natural gas and the penetration of subsidized and low-marginal-cost variable renewable electricity (VRE) are affecting the profitability of exiting nuclear units. Argonne is leading energy market economics modeling to support decision makers and nuclear utilities. The NAE group uses and is developing additional capabilities for the A-LEAF electricity market simulation code, developed within the Argonne Energy Systems division, to solve the combined Capacity Expansion and Economic Dispatch problems and find the optimal deployment of generating units to meet the forecasted grid demand in deregulated markets with a sub-hourly time resolution. The NAE group is also developing an agent-based simulation module for A-LEAF: this tool enables analysis of realistic market systems consisting of multiple or numerous independent utility actors, and provide insight into factors such as the impact of construction risk on nuclear economic viability and utility preferences on reactor size. This multi-laboratory effort is supported by the System Analysis and Integration campaign of the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Nuclear Energy.

 References:

  • W. Neal Mann, Nicolas E. Stauff, Katie Biegel, Todd Levin, Jordan D. Rader, Arantxa Cuadra, Son H. Kim, Reactor Power Size Impacts on Nuclear Competitiveness in a Carbon-Constrained Future,” ANS Winter Meeting, 2021. 
  • N. Stauff, K. Biegel, T. Levin, A. Botterud, J. Richards, A. Cuadra, S. Kim, etc. Daily Market Analysis of Load Following and Storage Impacts,” ANL/NSE-20/44, September 30, 2020.
  • Katie Biegel, Nicolas E. Stauff, Todd Levin, Taek K. Kim, and Temitope A. Taiwo, Economic Ramifications of Nuclear Load-Following in ERCOT under High Renewables Penetration and Energy Policies”, proceedings of ANS Winter Meeting, November 2020.
  • R. Ponciroli, N. E. Stauff, J. Ramsey, F. Ganda and R. B. Vilim, An Improved Genetic Algorithm approach to the Unit Commitment/Economic Dispatch problem,” in IEEE Transactions on Power Systems, April 2020.
  • N. Stauff, G. Maronati, P. Talbot, A. Cuadra, R. Ponciroli, T. K. Kim, B. Dixon, T. A. Taiwo, Energy Market Simulation Tools to Assess Competitiveness of Nuclear Power Plants,” proceedings of Global 2019, Seattle, WA, September 2019.
  • N. Stauff, G. Maronati, R. Ponciroli, F. Ganda, T. Kim, T. Taiwo (ANL), A. Cuadra, M. Todosow (BNL), P. Talbot, C. Rabiti, B. Dixon (INL), S. Kim (PNNL), Daily Market Analysis Capability and Results,” ANL/NSE-19/5, 2019.