The future UK electricity mix will have more renewables, batteries and interconnectors than expected, according to long-awaited new government projections. The shift in Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) modelling, which includes a marked reduction in new gas capacity, parallels similar changes made by National Grid. Despite these shifts, the UK remains off track for its carbon budgets to 2030, the BEIS projections show. Carbon Brief breaks down how things have changed – and why. A November BEIS report cut the cost of wind and solar power by 15-30%, both now and in the future. These changing price assumptions drive the BEIS electricity market model, which has also been updated to better reflect the whole system costs of integrating variable renewables into the grid. One striking result is a marked increase in the amount of new renewable capacity being built in the model, now projected to reach 36 gigawatts (GW) by 2030 (top left chart, below). This is 71% more than the 21GW of new build capacity seen in the 2015 BEIS projections, which had cut renewables in the wake of then-secretary of state Amber Rudd’s “reset speech“. Nuclear generation is now seen falling in the early 2020s, before picking up again later in the decade. In 2024, BEIS expects nuclear to be generating 34 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity, down from 44TWh projected in 2015 and 67TWh in 2014, in total a reduction of around 50%, with the shortfall persisting until the late 2020s. This reflects ongoing delays to the UK’s new nuclear programme and the retirement of old reactors. Even after contracts were signed on the Hinkley C scheme in Somerset, doubts hang over its timing and the prospects for several other schemes, such as the Toshiba-backed Moorside plant in Cumbria.
Carbon Brief 22nd March 2017 read more »
Gas power plants can emit up to 120 times the levels of methane reported by companies to regulators in the United States, according to new research. As the world attempts to switch to a low-carbon economy, gas is increasingly being used as it is – theoretically at least – cleaner than coal, producing about 56 per cent of the emissions. However, scientists at Purdue University and the Environmental Defence Fund (EDF) said that if just three per cent of the gas, which is mostly methane, leaked into the atmosphere, then a gas plant would become a bigger source of greenhouse gases than a coal one. The researchers found that leaks from three gas power plants in the US were much lower than this level at less than 0.5 per cent. And, even when supply chain leak estimates of 1.7 per cent were taken into account, “the climate benefit of using natural gas for electricity generation is not compromised”, they said in a paper in the journal Environment Science & Technology. But the study also found: “Average methane emission rates were larger than facility-reported estimates by factors of 21 to 120 (at natural gas power plants) and 11 to 90 (at refineries).” While methane has a much more powerful warming effect on the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, there is less of it and the gas is relatively short-lived. But, mass-for-mass, methane still has 28 to 34 times the greenhouse effect of carbon dioxide over 100 years. In a statement, one of the researchers, Professor Paul Shepson, of Purdue, said methane was ” a better fuel all around – as long as you don’t spill it”. ” But it doesn’t take much methane leakage to ruin your whole day if you care about climate change,” he said.
Independent 22nd March 2017 read more »