One option to clean the nation’s power supply is to replace like for like. Switch massive coal plants for massive nuclear plants, or attach carbon capture technology to gas and coal fuelled facilities. There are two problems here. One is that both of these options are very capital intensive, which means they need to run all the time to be economically worthwhile. But we don’t use power all the time, so bill-payers would still need to stump up for a raft of gas power stations which, when they run, would still emit carbon dioxide. The other, more fundamental, issue is that neither the nuclear nor carbon capture plans seem to be going terribly well. A detailed study for the European power system by McKinsey, KEMA and Imperial College showed that by 2030 interconnection and demand side response “shifting up to 10% of daily load in response to availability of supply, decreases the need for grid capacity by 10% and back-up capacity by 35% and thus helps in managing the risk of insufficient grid transmission. Demand response also reduces the volatility of power prices by better matching demand to available supply, reducing volatility by 10–30%”.
Energy Desk 18th Jan 2016 read more »