Orsted’s Hornsea Project Spawns Talk of Offshore Wind Replacing Nuclear. A giant offshore wind project has reignited debate over whether the intermittent renewable energy technology could one day replace nuclear power. Danish developer Ørsted said its Hornsea One plant, which started delivering power to the grid this month, could help make up for a lack of planned nuclear generation in the U.K., as plans for new reactors have fallen by the wayside. When complete, Hornsea One will cover more than 157 square miles, making it bigger than the city of Denver, and have a peak capacity of 1.2 gigawatts, thanks to 174 turbines of at least 7 megawatts each. It will be the biggest offshore wind plant on the planet, dwarfing the current leader, Walney Extension, which Ørsted opened last September with a capacity of 659 megawatts. Ørsted has plans for an even bigger project, the 1.8-gigawatt Hornsea Two plant, in U.K. waters. In an interview with The Guardian after two Japanese firms pulled out of building new British reactors, Henrik Poulsen, Ørsted’s chief executive, said that in the future, “if nuclear should play less of a role than expected, I believe offshore wind can step up.” Can it, though? Depending on conditions, the U.K. already gets more than a third of its energy from variable wind generation. This month the country smashed a new record, with 15.32 gigawatts of power delivering 36 percent of the nation’s electricity, said RenewableUK, an industry body. It may seem risky to further increase the country’s reliance on a generation source that depends on meteorological conditions. However, advocates point out that offshore wind is a more reliable energy source than the onshore variety, particularly as turbine sizes grow. According to one analysis in 2017, the capacity factors of U.K. offshore wind farms have risen from roughly 30 percent to 40 percent from early to later projects, mainly as a result of installing larger turbines. The analysis concluded Hornsea Two, if built, could potentially have a capacity factor in excess of 60 percent. That’s still below the capacity factors nuclear typically achieves, but perhaps not as much as you might think. While U.S. reactors have average capacity factors of around 90 percent, in the U.K. the level is significantly lower. World Nuclear Association figures show an average U.K. nuclear plant load factor of less than 82 percent in 2017. This was quite a high level for the U.K. fleet, according to a review of capacity factors by British anti-nuclear campaigner Peter Lux. He claims the U.K. fleet’s “consistently awful” capacity factors are a result of the country installing reactor designs not widely used elsewhere, which limits the potential to acquire expertise in operating the technology.
Green Tech Media 22nd Feb 2019 read more »
BP’s latest projections, released last week, once again concede that their previous reports have been overestimating fossil fuel consumption and underestimating renewables. Yet BP still predicts total energy demand will grow indefinitely thanks to overall global growth, and fossil fuels will always be needed. But Simon Evans at Carbon Brief shows how these projections contrast starkly with McKinsey’s, who find that the efficiency of renewables will see total energy demand plateau out in the 2030s after more than a century of global energy growth. Global energy demand will continue to increase as a result of human development in the world’s poorest countries, says oil and gas major BP in its latest outlook to 2040. BP says in its Energy Outlook 2019 that this increase in demand is a necessity for rising prosperity, but an impediment to the Paris climate goals. This is because even rapid uptake of renewable and other low-carbon sources is insufficient to cover rising energy demand. As a result, according to the outlook, there is a continued need for large amounts of fossil fuels. Yet cracks are starting to appear in this foundational assumption for BP and other prominent energy outlooks. Indeed, BP’s latest outlook cuts the rate of demand increases in its main scenario, compared to previous editions, and includes others where growth is even slower. Meanwhile, an alternative outlook published this week by the consultancy McKinsey suggests global demand could stop rising in the 2030s, after more than a century of sustained growth. Carbon Brief runs through the key findings from BP’s Energy Outlook 2019 and explores what it might mean for fossil fuels and the climate, if global energy demand stops growing.
Energy Post 18th Feb 2019 read more »