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Technology advances and plunging costs of cheap renewables make base load nuclear power redundant

Cheap renewables undercut nuclear power
The technology advances and plunging costs of cheap renewables make base load nuclear power redundant. Climate News Network, by Paul Brown, LONDON, 29 December, 2017 – Cheap renewables are mounting a serious challenge to nuclear power, which in 2017 has had a difficult year.

Key projects have been abandoned, costs are rising, and politicians in countries which previously championed the industry are withdrawing their support.

Renewables, on the other hand, especially wind and solar power, have continued to expand at an enormous rate. Most importantly, they have got significantly cheaper.

And newer technologies like large-scale battery storage and production of hydrogen are becoming economic, because they harness cheap power from excess renewable capacity.

This latest trend – the production of hydrogen from excess wind and solar power– raises the possibility of replacing natural gas, at least in part, for domestic heating and cooking and for power stations.

The output from renewables can be stored and balanced out. Base load nuclear power is no longer needed

Many existing gas pipelines and domestic networks are equally capable of taking natural gas, biogas and hydrogen, or a mixture of all three.

The speed with which the transition is taking place has exceeded all official estimates. In favourable locations across the world, including the United States, Europe and India, onshore wind and solar farms are the least expensive way of producing electricity.

Even off-shore wind, five years ago more expensive than nuclear power, has developed so quickly that the latest Dutch off-shore farms are to be built without any subsidy at all.

These advances in renewables that are cutting the cost of power are in sharp contrast to continued cost overruns and delays in nuclear power stations.

An analysis of countries’ plans for tackling climate change showed that 108 were looking to expand renewables and just nine wanted to build new nuclear stations.

US blow

The biggest single blow to nuclear power’s expansion came in August: two nuclear reactors under construction in the US state of South Carolina were abandoned when 40% complete. ……

The continued difficulties of nuclear power are reflected in the French government’s declared intention to reduce nuclear’s share in electricity generation from 75% to 50%, by closing old stations and building more renewables.

Long delay

While it will not close old reactors as fast as it originally intended, France does not plan to build any new nuclear plants beyond the one still awaiting completion at Flamanville, which is years late and over budget.

The South Korean government has similarly been promising to halt nuclear expansion and develop more renewables. Japan, still suffering from the after-effects of the Fukushima nuclear disaster of 2011, is abandoning plans to restart some of its older reactors because of public resistance and the expense of upgrading safety.

Even in China and Russia, where state control means market economics have little effect on decision-making, plans to build more nuclear stations appear to be on hold, although no official statements have been made.

This has not stopped the nuclear industries in all these countries trying to export their technologies – notably to the UK, which is inviting all of them except Russia to build their latest nuclear power station design on its shores. If the plans succeed, the UK would have four different designs

The most advanced of these, Hinkley Point C in the west of England, is a set of two reactors of similar design to the badly delayed French reactor at Flamanville. It was originally due to be completed by Christmas 2017, but is now scheduled for 2025, although that is now seen as optimistic……..

The claim to a bright future which the nuclear industry clung to for the last 20 years was that the technology produced large quantities of low carbon electricity at a low price – something that intermittent renewables could not do.

In 2017 it is clear this argument has fallen apart. Nuclear is ever more expensive, and the cost is growing, while renewables are getting cheaper all the time.

But perhaps most important is that, with the development of batteries, biogas and hydrogen, the output from renewables can be stored and balanced out. Base load nuclear power is no longer needed. – Climate News Network https://climatenewsnetwork.net/cheap-renewables-undercut-nuclear-power/

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December 30, 2017 - Posted by | 2 WORLD, renewable

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