DOUBTS over the future of Hinkley Point nuclear station will increase this week when ministers launch a consultation on alternative technologies, which could revolutionise the energy market and undermine the case for the £18bn project. Opponents argue the plant will be rendered surplus to requirements by a technology revolution. Aurora Energy Research, an independent consultancy that provides data to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and regulator Ofgem, will this week predict that by 2030 as much as 8 gigawatts of battery storage will be installed in homes and factories in Britain. Today there is virtually none. The capacity is equal to more than twice Hinkley’s potential. If batteries become widespread, they could ameliorate shortfalls in renewable energy when the sun does not shine or the wind does not blow. Since 2010 more than 9GW of solar capacity have been installed thanks to government subsidies and a 70% fall in panel prices. The surge in battery installations is expected to be driven by shrinking costs. Lithium-ion batteries have halved in price in the past three years, for example. Aurora will forecast that battery power, which today costs between £250 and £350 per kilowatt hour of storage capacity, could fall to £110 by 2020 as China ramps up production. The report will coincide with a call for evidence from BEIS on how to encourage a “smart, flexible” energy system that relies heavily on new technology, rather than the old model that was centred on a few dozen big fossil-fuel plants.
Times 11th Sept 2016 read more »