On-Demand Electricity from Future Fission Energy Systems

Wilson, Andy Robert (2021). On-Demand Electricity from Future Fission Energy Systems. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0001250e


This thesis details a novel methodological approach to assessing the relative economic viability of a combined power generation and energy storage plant. The approach optimises the given system from both a process engineering and a financial perspective and this is the key novel contribution that this work provides to the field.

The thesis utilises two key pieces of software. The first is Modelica code used within the Dymola simulation environment for engineering process modelling of the energy storage plant. The second is the Palisade @RISK plugin used within Excel for economic evaluation of the plant performance in a simulated UK electricity spot market, using a Monte Carlo approach for evaluating plant designs in the face of uncertainty.

The first two technical sections of the thesis following the literature review comprise a detailed description of the engineering model and the financial model, respectively. The former describes the equations that are used in each component of the engineering process model. The latter describes not only the equations that make up the financial model, but also the approach taken to estimating energy storage plant capital costs.

This thesis builds on previous work on liquid air energy storage, particularly the substantial body of engineering studies and the smaller but increasing body of economic studies. The market-led approach to engineering design remains, at the time of writing, the only example of a detailed study of how plant design parameters impact the economic viability of the plant in question.

Results are presented in two sections. The first discusses the initial engineering-focused modelling in which the bulk of the plant engineering design work was performed. This begins with a deep dive into the effect of design parameters on plant performance and goes on to compare different plant configurations with a focus on the number of compression and expansion stages. The second result section discusses the initial results of the financial modelling using the plant performance results from both the engineering and financial models.

The closing sections discuss the successes and limitations of the project and speculate on other fields in which this novel approach might prove enlightening. Whilst a nuclear power plant coupled with energy storage was the chosen example for demonstration of this work, the methodology could be equally well applied to other energy storage plants and is particularly well-suited to asymmetrical energy storage systems.

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