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EDF’s plans to produce pink hydrogen at proposed 3.2GW nuclear plant are ‘daft’: argues influential independent analyst Liebreich


EDF’s plans to produce pink hydrogen at proposed 3.2GW nuclear plant are ‘daft’: Liebreich

French utility wants to divert nuclear power to electrolysers at times when the supply of wind and solar is high, but ‘the economics won’t work’, argues the influential independent analyst, Recharge,  2 August 2021    EDF is planning to produce low-carbon “pink” hydrogen at a controversial planned nuclear power plant in the UK only at times when the supply of wind and solar is plentiful — an idea that influential analyst Michael Liebreich has dismissed as “daft”

The French state-backed power giant wants to build the £20bn ($27.8bn) 3.2GW Sizewell C facility on the coast of eastern England, and the UK government is said to be keen to give it the go-ahead as it aims to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

But in the wake of the hugely expensive Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant in southwest England — which is now under construction after receiving an eye-wateringly high strike price of £92.50/MWh for 35 years (rising with inflation) — the government is wary of committing so much taxpayer money to the project.

In what could be seen as an effort to firm up government support for Sizewell C, which would come on line in 2034, EDF has unveiled plans to use the proposed facility to produce clean hydrogen by diverting electricity to H2-producing electrolysers on days when the supply from wind, solar and hydro are high.

If new nuclear is to have any chance of succeeding it will be by being paired with demand-responsive processes like electrolysis or desalination,” Liebreich wrote on Twitter. “But the idea of making H2 [from nuclear] only with excess power on sunny or windy days is daft: the economics won’t work.”………

Producing hydrogen through electrolysis only at times of excess renewable power has long been derided as uneconomic. This is because using electrolysers only occasionally will significantly increase the levelised cost of the hydrogen (LCOH……….

UK’s nuclear problems

The UK government is said to be considering funding Sizewell C through a “regulated asset base” model, through which consumers would pay a top-up on their electricity bills way before the plant starts generating power. But this would potentially mean that consumers would also have to pay for any cost overruns — a very common problem for the nuclear industry.

According to researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the typical nuclear power plant built since 1970 had a cost overrun of 241%. This has meant it has been hard for new nuclear projects to attract investment.

The UK government is said to be considering taking over the 20% stake in Sizewell C currently owned by China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN), after declaring that it no longer wanted Chinese state-owned companies involved in the UK atomic power sector. CGN owns a 33% stake in Hinkley Point C.

Former UK Energy Secretary Ed Davey, who is now the leader of the Liberal Democrat party, says the government’s focus should be on far cheaper wind and solar, rather than expensive, risky nuclear.

“Anything that passes nuclear’s costs on to the taxpayer — costs like nuclear waste management, nuclear station decommissioning, or delays and cost overruns — will be a total betrayal of taxpayers and cost every household in Britain a small fortune,” he said……….. https://www.rechargenews.com/energy-transition/edf-s-plans-to-produce-pink-hydrogen-at-proposed-3-2gw-nuclear-plant-are-daft-liebreich/2-1-1047159

August 5, 2021 - Posted by | technology

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