UK nuclear power strategy: Costly, complicated and perhaps unnecessary, says expert. When it comes to Britain’s future energy mix, it seems pretty clear coal is out and renewables are in – but slightly less cut and dry is the UK nuclear power strategy. On the one hand, it appears the country is preparing to gradually phase out virtually all its nuclear capacity as 14 of its 15 operational plants are to be decommissioned by 2030. On the other, it has six new facilities in the works, combining for a cumulative worth of more than £100bn and offering up many gigawatts (GW) of power – though some have stalled and look to be hanging by a thread. Data insight firm GlobalData’s director of power Harminder Singh says: “The high capital costs and long build times are two key variables that add uncertainty to the process of setting up nuclear power plants.” “In the wake of the recent suspension of the Wylfa Newydd project, and the Moorside and Oldbury schemes meeting the same fate earlier, it has become clear that nuclear is not expected to play a significant role in adding capacity in the UK at least in the near future,” explains Harminder. “The share of nuclear in the power mix is expected to decline to 6% by 2030, owing to the decommissioning of plants and no new-builds.” But with fossil fuels also getting the axe as part of the UK’s effort to meet its various emissions targets, the issue then becomes whether or not renewable energy can fill the gap on its own. It has seen a rise to prominence in the country’s electricity mix over the past decade, contributing roughly 9% in 2010 and shooting up to more than 40% last year. By 2024, it is expected to cross the 50% mark, with Britain’s offshore wind capacity – currently the largest in the world – at the forefront. Harminder says: “Since renewable energy can be installed fairly quickly, it is possible for this form of energy to fill the gap left by nuclear power. “The declining cost of renewables makes them even more attractive compared to an expensive source of power such as nuclear.
Compelo 27th Jan 2019 read more »