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UK CAN meet its climate goals without the Wylfa nuclear plant

Q&A: Can the UK meet its climate goals without the Wylfa nuclear plant? 

Carbon Brief, 21 January 2019   “……. recent analysis from the government’s official advisers the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) shows the UK could meet its power demand and climate goals to 2030 at low cost, without any new nuclear beyond the Hinkley C scheme already being built in Somerset.

This new analysis reflects the dramatic cost reductions seen for renewables in recent years. Greg Clark, the UK’s secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy (BEIS), made a similar point last week as he spoke in parliament about the failed Wylfa deal. He told MPs:

“The economics of the energy market have changed significantly in recent years. The cost of renewable technologies such as offshore wind has fallen dramatically…The challenge of financing new nuclear is one of falling costs and greater abundance of alternative technologies, which means that nuclear is being outcompeted.”……….

The CCC’s “central renewables” and “high renewables” scenarios meet the 2030 carbon target without new nuclear beyond Hinkley C. In these scenarios, nuclear generation in 2030 is 35TWh – the estimated output of Hinkley C plus Sizewell B, each running for 90% of available hours……….

 each of the 2030 scenarios supplies enough electricity to meet projected demand, meaning the lights would not “go out”. Gas would still supply 20-25% of electricity, most of which would be used to cover peak demand during winter or to fill gaps in variable renewable output.

The CCC scenarios out to 2030 all massively expand renewables, whether or not additional new nuclear plants get built. The renewable share of the mix increases from 33% in 2018 to at least 58% in 2030. Nuclear’s share falls from 18% in 2018 to between 10% and 17% in 2030. At the low end, where no new nuclear is added after Hinkley C, it is renewables that make up the gap.

[The CCC says: “We do not consider [the BEIS 2030] pathway credible.” This pathway sees nuclear’s share hold steady, though, as BEIS notes, this is “not based on [nuclear] developers’ proposed pipeline”. BEIS also assumes imports via electricity interconnectors reach 21% of the total while the CCC assumes net-zero imports, with interconnectors helping balance supply and demand.]

The CCC says expanding wind and solar is a “low-regrets” option as renewables are likely to be cheaper than new gas, with similar costs to running existing gas plants or raising imports, even after accounting for the costs of integrating their variable output onto the grid. The CCC adds:

“If new nuclear projects [beyond Hinkley C] were not to come forward, it is likely that renewables would be able to be deployed on shorter timescales and at lower cost.”

Replacing the output of the shelved new nuclear plants at Wylfa, Moorside and Oldbury with renewables would be 13-33% cheaper, including the costs of balancing variable output, according to quickfire analysis from the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit.

Note that reductions in per-capita electricity generation have saved the UK the equivalent of four Hinkley Cs of demand since 2005, according to recent Carbon Brief analysis. The CCC assumes continued efficiency improvements to 2030 are offset by demand for electric vehicles and heating. ……https://www.carbonbrief.org/qa-can-the-uk-meet-its-climate-goals-without-the-wylfa-nuclear-plant

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January 24, 2019 - Posted by | climate change, UK

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