INL reactor deployments could be replicated under Net Zero Labs initiative

May 31, 2022, 7:14AMNuclear News

Four national laboratories have been chosen by the Department of Energy to receive a combined $38 million to launch the Net Zero Labs Pilot Initiative: Idaho National Laboratory, National Energy Technology Laboratory, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. The pilot program is planned as “a foundation of net-zero solutions that can be replicated at facilities across DOE, the federal government, and state and local governments” in support of the administration’s goal of reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions no later than 2050, according to the DOE. Additional funding is expected to be available to all 17 national laboratories on a competitive basis next year.

Nuclear energy’s role: In 2021, INL announced a commitment to achieving net-zero emissions by 2031. Plans include getting clean nuclear power from the UAMPS-NuScale Carbon Free Power Project—a deployment of NuScale small modular light water reactors on the laboratory site—and demonstrating an integrated secure microgrid system to include nuclear with existing renewables, battery storage, and hydrogen production.

INL has allotted $3.6 million in indirect funding for net-zero projects and program oversight and integration that include an emphasis on systems modeling. In addition, INL plans to reduce emissions from its operations by decarbonizing the lab’s bus and vehicle fleet and working with power providers and other suppliers.

“INL is energy-intense and complex, with approximately 900 square miles of facilities, 600 vehicles, 320 buildings, and 5,300 employees,” said INL director John Wagner in a May 25 press release. “Achieving net zero by 2031 will be an enormous challenge that requires tremendous innovation, changes to how we conduct operations, and collaboration with local, state, and national partners. Our staff are motivated by our clean energy and national security missions and have a strong desire to contribute solutions to the most pressing technical challenges our nation faces.”

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