Dave Elliott: The Policy Exchange claims that ‘The diffuse and intermittent nature of solar and wind means that we cannot rely on them for 100% of our energy needs – for example, January typically sees at least one week where virtually no electricity is produced by either wind or solar compared with what is needed. Buying in electricity through interconnectors from other Western European nations will be increasingly difficult as our neighbours also turn to wind and solar and so have less capacity to export, while the battery storage capability to back up renewables could cost up to £1 trillion. We need a reliable and affordable low carbon form of energy – small modular reactors have the potential to be that technology.’ This is all going over old ground. There have been many global and national studies suggesting that it is possible to reach near 100% of electricity by 2050 and some saying 100% of all energy is possible by then, without significant land-use conflicts. The most notable of the latter is the 139 country study by a team from Stanford University led by Prof Mark Jacobson. Certainly, while short-term flexible balancing is being achieved and batteries can help with that, long-term storage to deal with the occasional long-term lulls in renewables is only now taking off seriously. Though storage of surplus output from wind and PV, converted to storable hydrogen, and then maybe methane, looks like a winner. However, it will take time to deploy widely. But then, so would the new nuclear options, and, given varying demand, they too will at times have surpluses to deal with, so to some extent it’s really just a matter of which supply option you like. The supply variations would be different with renewables, with short-term variations being the most obvious, but smart grid demand management could help deal with these, and reduce demand peaks. The longer-term lulls are also mostly unique to renewables, although nuclear plants can also go off line suddenly. Given proper balancing and top ups from supergrid imports/exports, it’s not clear (see below) if a system based on renewables would be any less robust or costly than one based on nuclear.
Environmental Research Web 10th Feb 2018 read more »
Bringing Britain’s energy system back under public ownership is the best way of tackling climate change, according to Jeremy Corbyn. In his most pro-green speech to date, the Labour leader said his government would sweep away the “centralised system” of energy delivery by private firms in favour of “new sources of energy large and small”. Speaking yesterday at a conference in London on alternative models of ownership, Corbyn said: “The greenest energy is usually the most local but people have been queuing up to connect renewable energy to the national grid. “With the national grid in public hands we can put tackling climate change at the heart of our energy system, committing to renewable generation from tidal to onshore wind.”
Times 11th Feb 2018 read more »