In energy policy debates, nuclear energy and renewable energy technologies are sometimes viewed as competitors.
In reality, they could be better, together.
At the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Ben Lindley, an assistant professor of engineering physics and an expert on nuclear reactors, and Mike Wagner, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering and a solar energy expert, are studying the feasibility and benefits of such a coupling.
In partnership with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Westinghouse, they’re designing an integrated energy system that combines a next-generation nuclear reactor and a concentrating solar power plant. In addition, they’re developing tools and algorithms to optimize the energy production of these systems.