Fossil fuels are the primary energy source because of their (1) low cost, (2) ease of storage, (3) low-cost transport and (4) economic dispatchability. Because the capital cost of power plants, furnaces, and boilers is small relative to the cost of the fuel, it is economic to meet variable energy demand by operating fossil plants at part load. Nuclear, wind, solar and hydrogen production plants have high capital cost; thus, operating these facilities at half capacity can almost double energy costs. A low-carbon system is defined that enables high-capital-cost low-operating-cost technologies to operate at high capacity while providing variable heat, hydrogen and electricity to the customer. This minimizes total costs. In the U.S., over 80% of all energy used is in the form of heat; thus, heat production and storage is central to a low-carbon economy. Nuclear power is the primary low-carbon low-cost heat producing technology.
Keywords Nuclear, heat storage, hydrogen, biofuels