Idaho Lab RFI for Net-Zero Campus Microgrid

INL-logo-blue-large.pngBattelle Energy Alliance (BEA), an entity that manages and operates the Department of Energy (DOE) national laboratory, on April 29 launched a request for information (RFI) from industry, utilities, energy users, and other stakeholders that could inform how it can integrate nuclear-generated power and heat into a campus microgrid. The initiative falls under the April 2021–launched INL Net-Zero Program, which aims to eliminate or offset all emissions from the campus where 5,400 employees work.

Note to Readers: This blog post is a brief report about
and summary of the full INL request for information.
net zero 1 inl

In a statement to Power Magazine, INL Director John Wagner said, the lab’s demonstration of net-zero solutions, including the integration of advanced reactors on a campus microgrid, will be pivotal to the lab’s initiatives to explore nuclear’s power and heat capabilities.

“Nuclear energy is absolutely essential to achieving national and international net-zero goals,” Wagner said. “We see this work as not only a core part of our mission, but also an opportunity to lead by example and reduce barriers to deploying emission-free nuclear energy technologies to local and global communities.”

Request for Information

Battelle Energy Alliance, LLC (BEA), the managing and operating contractor for the United States (U.S.) Department of Energy’s (DOE) Idaho National Laboratory (INL) in Idaho Falls, Idaho, is issuing this Request for information (RFI) to invite input on options for reducing energy-related emissions at INL by using nuclear-generated electricity and/or heat as part of the INL Net-Zero Program.

BEA anticipates the eventual need for involvement of various subcontractors and suppliers to accomplish the INL Net- Zero Program. As such, BEA is seeking feedback from industry, utilities, energy users, and other stakeholders to inform the development of several alternative approaches, including design, construction, and operation of a nuclear reactor resource.

BEA is seeking information only and is not soliciting offers or acquiring services or goods at this time. This RFI will inform next steps in INL’s Net-Zero Plan to include Nuclear generation in the path forward.

INL Net-Zero Vision

INL plays an important role in helping the nation resolve its major energy and security challenges. At INL, the driving force behind our nuclear and other clean energy research and development (R&D) is creating clean, scalable, and sustainable energy solutions to address national and global needs while reducing environmental impacts. INL will lead by example, committing to become a national
carbon neutral prototype and achieving net-zero emissions from INL operations by 2031.

Using technology innovations, collaborations, increased efficiencies, and novel approaches, BEA will demonstrate the path forward for establishing a clean energy economy. This Program is an opportunity to demonstrate and deploy advanced nuclear reactors, grid integration, transportation electrification, improved energy storage, and other elements of clean, integrated energy systems at scale.

BEA is prepared to demonstrate net-zero solutions, including integrating advanced nuclear reactors and other clean energy systems on a net-zero microgrid to provide clean electricity, thermal energy, hydrogen, ammonia, and/or other value-added products to achieve our carbon-reduction goals (see Figure 1 above). BEA plans to implement and model the net-zero actions in three parts, building on each part: (1) Demonstration; (2) Pilot Applications; and (3) Campus-wide implementation to achieve net-zero by 2031.


Net-Zero at Idaho National Laboratory

BEA plans to demonstrate that current utility needs for affordable, reliable, and dispatchable generation capacity can be developed in tandem with cutting-edge clean energy technology. BEA seeks to be a research site where equipment manufacturers, pipelines and fuel transporters, clean fuels suppliers, DOE national laboratories, and utilities can come together to demonstrate the scalability of emerging technologies that enables the electricity sector and other energy use sectors to effectively achieve their energy and environmental goals.

This work will demonstrate how to transition between traditional fuels to emerging net-zero technologies at utility scale while maintaining reliable, resilient operations. Nuclear energy is a dispatchable energy source that does not emit greenhouse gases or other air pollutants during operation, offering multiple benefits to a decarbonized future—including improved air quality,1 firm power, and reduced volatility in energy costs.

Numerous studies have evaluated the potential costs associated with achieving decarbonization across the energy sector, while also maintaining the reliability and resilience of the electricity sector. These studies point to the need for firm power sources in the power mix to reduce electricity costs.

The peer-reviewed literature illustrates the potential for nuclear energy to be a significant contributor to achieving net-zero goals. At the same time, past performance also demonstrates the effectiveness of nuclear energy. France, for example, achieved 80% decarbonization of the nation’s electric grid in less than two decades by scaling up nuclear energy. We are focused on creating clean, scalable, reliable, and sustainable energy solutions to address national and global needs while reducing environmental

This sits at the center of the Net-Zero Program. BEA has committed to becoming a national carbon-neutral prototype and achieving net-zero emissions across all INL operations by 2031. Achieving net-zero means drastically reducing onsite emissions and offsetting the limited residual emissions from activities that are very challenging to decarbonize. This is a substantial and long-term commitment.

BEA will use technology innovations and collaborations, increased efficiencies, and novel approaches to demonstrate the path forward for establishing a clean energy economy that includes nuclear energy generation.

As part of this goal, BEA’s microgrid allows for the introduction of energy from multiple zero carbon sources, including small modular and micro-reactors, into an operating transmission and distribution system. This test bed provides a singular opportunity for industry to prove components and test control systems. We anticipate exporting the fundamental design of the microgrid to future locations, such as stand-alone industrial parks, commercial facilities, and remote locations requiring net-zero carbon resources, to reliably meet energy demands through nuclear energy.


According to the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, elements of a microgrid (image) could include: controllable generation like nuclear power plants including small modular reactors, micro reactors, (not shown), gas-fueled combined heat and power (CHP) and fuel cells; limited or non-controllable generation like a photovoltaic solar array or wind turbine (not shown); backup generators; uninterruptible power supply (UPS); and energy storage capability.

The microgrid manager (at the center) balances generation and load. The microgrid interacts with the local distribution network or the macrogrid through the points of common coupling. The power sources incorporated into the microgrid depend on customer requirements (industrial, residential, etc.), and the business case for fulfilling them with various energy generation technologies.


BEA invites all interested parties to submit, in writing by May 2 2022, comments and information on matters addressed in this RFI. All questions and responses related to this RFI shall be sent to Wendy Hall at

  • RFI Release Date: April 4, 2022
  • RFI Revision 1 Release Date: April 14, 2022
  • RFI Responses Due: May 16, 2022

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