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A NuIDEA for carbon-free district energy

By District Energy posted 06-27-2023 17:16


Nuclear Engineering International


Nuclear microreactors are an untapped opportunity for clean and resilient district energy production at universities, hospitals, airports, government facilities, urban networks, and more. The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) is accelerating the use of nuclear energy to decarbonize district energy systems by identifying and solving the biggest remaining challenges.

District energy systems centralize thermal energy production to achieve cost savings and reliability benefits for multiple buildings. Historically used for heating, today’s district energy systems are increasingly being developed for cooling and cogeneration of electricity. This approach increases energy independence and efficiency at universities, hospitals, airports, government facilities, and urban districts.

Behind the scenes, 170 kilometers of piping trace a hidden grid beneath Manhattan, where ConEdison’s Steam Business Unit serves 1,800 customer buildings and currently stands as the largest district steam system globally. According to the International District Energy Association (IDEA), there are at least 660 district energy systems in the US, and the International Energy Agency (IEA) notes that in some countries like Denmark and Sweden, district systems already provide the majority of the national heat supply.

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