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Pipes at power plant
Pipes at power plant

R&D Strategy Roadmap

Southern Company’s R&D organization provides innovative energy solutions and creates value for customers in the evolving energy landscape. Our research is facilitating the transition to a net zero future by exploring a full spectrum of solutions such as more cost-effective and efficient carbon capture, high-potential advanced nuclear technologies, and next-generation power delivery and end-use innovations like Smart Neighborhoods®. In addition to these examples, elaborated below, read more about Southern Company’s commitment to innovation here.

  • National Carbon Capture Center - Since 2009, we have managed and operated the Department of Energy’s primary carbon capture research facility, completing over 127,000 hours of testing of approximately 70 different technologies from more than 40 developers. This work has reduced the cost of carbon capture by approximately 40%, and has recently expanded to carbon capture on natural gas generation, carbon utilization and direct air capture.

  • Molten Chloride Fast Reactor (MCFR) - Southern Company is leading a program to accelerate high-potential advanced nuclear technologies, principally TerraPower’s MCFR, which offers superior performance, safety and economic benefit compared to conventional and other advanced reactor concepts. Ongoing public-private partnerships support this work to directly enable demonstration of the first commercially relevant MCFR by the mid-2030s.

  • Smart Neighborhoods® - Through our work in developing first-of-a-kind Smart Neighborhood® initiatives with Alabama Power and Georgia Power, we have begun to shape building-to-grid integration and residential-scale distributed generation. This research is expanding the utility industry’s understanding of how distributed energy resources interact with the grid, how emerging home automation technologies can improve customers’ lives and the role microgrids can play in supporting customer needs.

Southern Company has undertaken a systematic, comprehensive review of its R&D plan, including the identification of long-term objectives and aspirations and development of a refined strategy roadmap. Our roadmap comprises four phases:

  1. Develop a sustainable energy future 

  2. Provide delivery, storage and distributed generating solutions

  3. Support expanding customer needs

  4. Advance the existing generating fleet

Within each phase of the R&D roadmap, we have identified areas of focus to combine our long-term strategic vision with our near-term strategic objectives. This allows us to look deeply at the difficult transformational technologies needed to facilitate the transition to carbon-free energy, beyond merely incremental shifts.

R&D Strategy Technology Areas

R&D Strategy Technology Areas