Dave Elliott: Does the UK need 40 GW of firm capacity? Whether it comes from nuclear plants or fossil fuel-fired power stations with carbon capture and storage (CCS), the UK will need 30-40 GW of new “firm” low-carbon baseload generation by 2050 to meet the net-zero emissions target, Greg Clark reportedly said, just before being replaced by Andrea Leadsom as UK government Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Secretary of State. That view underlined the consultation on the proposed pre-build “regulated asset base (RAB)” consumer surcharge subsidy for new nuclear. RAB has not been without its critics. But is the capacity-need rationale right? First off, it has to be said that “baseload” plants, “firm” capacity and “dispatchable power” are not the same thing. As BNEF’s Michael Liebreich told Carbon Brief: “Any case for ‘firm’ power is essentially valueless without knowing the detail of the assumptions. Firm power which cannot be switched off when you don’t need it will be as much of a problem as variable power which cannot be switched on when you do. What is called for is flexibility, in huge quantities and of all types.” Biogas and green syngas-fired plants would avoid the need for costly CCS, and storable hydrogen syngas could be made from the occasional surplus renewable power outputs, via Power to Gas (P2G) electrolysis, maybe soon at reasonable overall costs — as renewable costs fall, the economics of P2G/hydrogen do seem to be improving. The UK government’s advisory Committee on Climate Change (CCC) says you can only go so far with the proportion of energy supplied by renewables before balancing costs start to rise, so we will need nuclear or CCS to provide some firm power. But it assumes that nuclear will get 28% cheaper by 2050 and that CCS will be viable at scale. In reality, renewables are here now and are getting ever cheaper and, as I have suggested above, the system economics could improve as renewables expand — depending in part on the viability of P2G.
Physics World 7th Aug 2019 read more »
Sir John Armitt, National Infrastructure Commission. Today climate change is our biggest challenge. It demands we overhaul the systems we rely on to go about our daily lives. Not just to reach net zero, but to protect families and businesses from increasingly frequent extreme weather. To put us on track to eradicate carbon emissions by 2050, the government must make implementing our proposals a priority. By 2030, half of our power should come from renewable sources, as part of a transition to a highly renewable energy mix. Progress is needed in assessing the viability of clean alternatives to natural gas, to determine a solution to how we’re going to decarbonise heat by the mid-2020s. We’re calling for an additional £43bn and further powers to be devolved to cities outside London, to transform public transport in urban areas. And, we need a truly national, visible charging network for electric vehicles to encourage drivers to switch from petrol and diesel. While we take steps to limit climate change, we must also build our defences against its effects. As we have seen this summer, these aren’t distant threats far out on the horizon, the impact is already being felt.
Business Green 8th Aug 2019 read more »
From houses and roads, to railways, power plants and flood defences, the UK must urgently set out a long-term plan for its shift towards net zero emission infrastructure and its strategy for dealing with the escalating impacts of climate change. That is according to National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) chair Sir John Armitt, who has today warned the new Cabinet’s credibility will soon be “under the spotlight” and as such it must this autumn set out a clear, long-term strategy for overhauling the country’s ageing infrastructure and turbo-charging the UK’s response to the climate crisis. The upcoming National Infrastructure Strategy – due to be released this autumn – will be a “key test” of the new Cabinet’s commitment to sustainable infrastructure, and must follow the blueprint set out by the NIC in its inaugural assessment of the country’s infrastructure needs last year, Armitt said.
Business Green 8th Aug 2019 read more »
Boris Johnson has been urged to create a singular “energy authority” to govern all aspects of the industry from oil and gas to renewables and nuclear. Currently each sector has its own form of regulation, with different officials and policy objectives in place. West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine MP Andrew Bowie has argued that the UK Government should now look at simplifying the model and bringing all aspects of the energy sector under one regulator.
Press & Journal 8th Aug 2019 read more »