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Nuclear power useless against climate change, – costly, but above all too slow to arrive

Nuclear power not a competitive option, Matt Hall, “……….relative to other low-carbon energy sources available today, nuclear power is significantly more expensive, less flexible, and impractically slow to build.

Nuclear power is expensive compared to modern renewables. The Guardian, Matt HallThe most recent cost of energy assessments from Lazard, a very reputable source, show nuclear coming in at roughly three to four times the cost of utility-scale wind or solar power. Three to four times. If this comes as a surprise, it might be because nuclear projects end up on average more than 100 per cent over budget (according to a peer-reviewed survey of 180 nuclear plants). Though next-generation reactor designs promise significant improvements, that technology is still in the works. In contrast, wind and solar power are already mature technologies, widely deployed at utility scale, and more affordable than almost every other option.

It’s commonly argued that nuclear plants provide reliable baseload generation. This is accurate, but of decreasing relevance. The challenge with electricity supply is meeting the peak load, not the base. This calls for flexible generation that can ramp up or down when needed, energy storage (of which there is an expanding array of options), and demand response (e.g. Summerside’s smart grid). Furthermore, as our energy mix becomes increasingly renewable, the need for flexibility increases and the space for always-on baseload generation decreases. Current nuclear technology, which is inflexible and relies on full-time operation to be economical, becomes increasingly impractical.

The urgency for decarbonizing our energy system has never been greater. Last year’s special report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change pushes for a halving of global net greenhouse gas emission by 2030. This involves switching the majority of our energy use to electricity, and providing that electricity from low-carbon sources. The 2030 timeframe means we need to use technologies that can be deployed quickly. While wind and solar power plants can be installed in a single year, nuclear plants typically take 10 years. Even if nuclear power were cost-effective and compatible with the future of the electricity grid, nuclear plants simply take too long to build to be a significant part of the energy system’s evolution. …….

wind and solar, supported by storage and demand response, are the leading solutions for new electricity generation in the present. And, when it comes to acting on climate change, it’s the present we need to work with.

Matt Hall is an assistant professor in the Faculty of Sustainable Design Engineering at UPEI. https://www.theguardian.pe.ca/opinion/letter-to-the-editor/opinion-nuclear-power-not-a-competitive-option-283850/

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February 14, 2019 - Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change

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