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Grid flexibility a better choice than nuclear – could save UK $millions

Christina Macpherson’s websites & blogs

When even a right wing news medium like Forbes start questioning the ”wisdom” of nuclear development , that industry must be getting worried.

Ditch Nuclear And Save $860 Million With Grid Flexibility, U.K. Told, Forbes,   David Vetter Senior Contributor, 30 Nov 2, 

The U.K. could save money, reduce the risk of blackouts and more quickly achieve its carbon-cutting goals by abandoning plans to build more nuclear power facilities and instead invest in a flexible electricity grid, new analysis has found.

According to the report from Finnish energy tech firm Wärtsilä, the U.K. would stand to save $860 million per year if, instead of new nuclear power, the government backed grid flexibility measures, such as battery storage and thermal generation. That equates to a saving of about $33 dollars per British household per year. Crucially, the analysis revealed that even if energy generation was to remain the same as it is today, Britain could increase renewables’ share of that generation to 62% simply by adding more flexibility (renewables currently account for around 47% of electricity used, according to the government).

The Wärtsilä report is timely because, in a ten-point plan released earlier this month, prime minister Boris Johnson promised an additional $684 million for the nuclear sector, and the building of new large and small nuclear power stations. Notably, grid flexibility was not mentioned in the plan.

The report also raises questions about the necessity of the 3.2 gigawatt Hinkley Point C nuclear power station, under development in Somerset, southwest England, which has been dogged by controversy and delays since its inception. In addition to coming with all the usual challenges associated with nuclear fission—not least the storage of radioactive waste—the project is at least $3.6 billion over budget and has been the target of numerous lawsuits and both local and international complaints.

Speaking to Forbes.com, Ville Rimali, growth and development director at Wärtsilä Energy, explained why his firm determined that grid flexibility is a preferable alternative to nuclear, as Britain looks for a pathway to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

“Flexibility unlocks more renewable energy by balancing the intermittency of wind and solar power to ensure the power supply always matches demand,” Rimali said. “For example, when more power is generated than needed, you can store the surplus in batteries to be used later. The alternative is paying renewables to switch off, which is expensive and inefficient.”

“It’s a bit like running a bath where the volume of water and the size of the plug keep changing,” he explained. “The smaller the bathtub, the more likely the water is to overflow or run out. Flexibility is like having a bigger bathtub—you can pour more water in, without the risk of running out or overflowing.” ………

 investing in nuclear power could, according to Wärtsilä, entrench an inflexible grid while making renewables such as solar and wind less cost-effective.

“New nuclear sites will rely heavily on government subsidies, negatively impact market prices and ultimately weaken the business case for renewables and flexibility,” Rimali said………   https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidrvetter/2020/11/30/ditch-nuclear-and-save-860-million-with-grid-flexibility-uk-told/?sh=2733622b1975

December 1, 2020 - Posted by | ENERGY, politics, UK

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