Doubts over a massive new nuclear plant in the United Kingdom have sparked debate over renewable alternatives — including the possibility of importing solar thermal power from north Africa. Analysts at The Energy Research Partnership (ERP), a think tank and advisory body, said solar thermal “would count” as one of a handful of firm low-carbon energy supplies capable of taking the place of a proposed nuclear plant whose future is now uncertain. several sources have noted that solar and wind power are on course to deliver energy at much lower cost than nuclear by the time Hinkley Point C is scheduled to come on-line in 2025. Some are advocating concentrating solar power, or solar thermal, as a way to help fill the gap. London-based Nur Energie already has a project, called TuNur, that is semi-permitted, with an interconnection point in Italy and the potential to start construction in 2018 and deliver power by 2020. The problem, according to ERP, is that replacing nuclear with offshore wind would require a prohibitive amount of energy storage. “In a report published last year, ERP demonstrated that it is essential to develop new firm low-carbon capacity to meet the de-carbonization targets,” said Andy Boston, head of the analysis team at the firm. “The work demonstrated that without this, variable renewables like wind and PV would need an unfeasibly large amount of long-term storage to effectively utilize their output to displace unabated fossil [fuel].” The study found 80 percent of U.K. of electricity could in theory be de-carbonized with about 70 gigawatts each of wind and PV, but this would require 1.5 terawatt-hours a year of storage, which is about 50 times the current pumped storage capability in the country. “The role of electricity storage is never likely to be one of firming up renewables to the point where they can be considered baseload,” predicted Boston. In its analysis, ERP said new nuclear is needed because government support is lacking for two other low-carbon base-load capacity contenders — biomass and fossil fuel with carbon capture and storage. The study did not consider bringing in concentrated solar power, with thermal storage, from north Africa. However, “CSP would fall into the same category as firm low-carbon supply, so yes, it would count,” said the organization.
Green Tech 29th Aug 2016 read more »