Battles continue over the economic viability of the proposed £18bn Hinkley nuclear project, with EDF still saying it can go ahead, despite the resignation of two key senior executives, opposition from the French trade unions and even doubts now emerging from the French Government. Energy minister Ségolène Royal said: ‘This project must offer further proof that it is well-founded and offer a guarantee that the investment in this project will not dry up investments that must be made in renewable energies.’ It is interesting then that EDFs recent R&D Paper ‘Technical and Economic Analysis of the European Electricity System with 60% RES’, by Alain Burtin and Vera Silva, looks at an EU future dominated by renewables, with nuclear only playing a moderate role, 90GW total. The EDF team says that storage and flexible demand can help a bit with balancing, but there will still be a need for back-up plants. EDF do not see large scale storage as being very viable. But what about Power to Gas Conversion? That could turn the surplus ‘problem’ into a balancing ‘solution’. I have looked at options like that in my new IoP book on ‘Balancing Green Power’, now out: http://iopscience.iop.org/book/978-0-7503-1230-1
Environment Research Web 9th April 2016 read more »
Letter Amory Lovins: Roger Gill (Letters, April 8), like the UK government, believes only large thermal (“baseload”) power stations can keep the lights on, because varying wind and solar photovoltaics (PV) require unaffordably vast electrical storage. But that’s the dearest way to manage their variability. Cheaper ways include: efficient use; flexible loads (demand response); forecasting wind and PV output more accurately than demand; diversifying variable renewables by type and location; using renewables operable at will (virtually all other kinds – half the world’s modern renewable power – including night-time solar power, two-fifths cheaper in Chile than Hinkley Point C); integrating CHP (Combined Heat and Power); and distributed storage worth buying anyhow (for example storing heat in buildings and water heaters, ice-storage air conditioning, and smart charging and discharging of electric vehicles). These seven resources make largely or wholly renewable grids highly reliable and raise variable renewables’ price (about $30-$50/MWh unsubsidised) by just a few per cent. Grid integration of central thermal stations is typically dearer. Four EU countries with no or modest hydropower met about half their 2014 electricity needs with renewables – Portugal 64 per cent, Denmark 59 per cent, Scotland 50 per cent, Spain 46 per cent – without adding bulk storage or degrading reliability. Former East Germany’s ultra-reliable utility was 46 per cent wind- and PV-powered last year. Operators learnt to run these low-carbon grids as a conductor leads a symphony orchestra: no instrument plays all the time, yet the ensemble continuously produces beautiful music. As Steve Holliday, of National Grid, has confirmed: “It’s simplistic to only look at storage. We will have the intelligence available in the system to ensure power is consumed when it’s there a nd not when it’s not there.” Mr Gill’s storage need is a myth.
FT 13th April 2016 read more »