Letter Dr David Lowry: Your leading article argues that nuclear power is “crucial” for the transition to “carbon-free power”. This view is reinforced in his Red Box article by Robert Goodwill, MP, who asserts in respect of Sizewell C that the proposed nuclear plant could be “delivering zero carbon baseload power through 2050 and beyond”. I disagree. Nuclear power is not a “carbon-free” way of generating electricity when assessed in the round: the carbon footprint of its full uranium “fuel chain” needs to be considered, from uranium mining, milling, enrichment (which is highly energy intensive), fuel fabrication, irradiation inside the reactor, radioactive waste conditioning, storage, and packaging to final disposal. Recent analysis by Mark Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University, indicates that nuclear power’s carbon dioxide emissions are between ten and 18 times greater than those from renewable energy technologies.
Times 16th Dec 2020 read more »
Modelling as part of the government’s long-awaited energy white paper shows that wind and solar generation could more than quadruple by 2050. The modelling – which aimed to help the government understand the potential impact on system costs of reducing carbon emissions at different levels of demand, using different combinations of generating and storage technologies – looked at a range of scenarios in 2050, including with and without hydrogen and low (575TWh) and high demand scenarios (672TWh). It identified 2050 capacity ranges for low carbon technologies that are deployable at scale, placing solar in the 15-120GW range, offshore wind between 40-120GW and onshore wind between 15-60GW. It found that all low cost solutions include significant levels of wind and solar, with electricity system costs lowest when carbon intensity is between 5-25gCO2/kWh.
Current 15th Dec 2020 read more »
At 5.09pm on 14 December 2020 the long awaited UK White Paper on energy was finally unveiled to MPs in the House of Commons in the UK Parliament by Alok Sharma, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, following months of briefing sections to the media since the summer.
Dr David Lowry’s Blog 15th Dec 2020 read more »
Whisper it, but I’m not sure the inevitable reignition of the row over the UK’s nuclear plans is the most important part of the long-awaited Energy White Paper. It is easy to see why the controversy surrounding the plans to build a new nuclear power plant at Sizewell led the headlines yesterday morning. Here is a point of real disagreement with deep feeling and legitimate good faith arguments on both sides. It ticks the drama and tension boxes that make for interesting news. It remains a fascinating and complex debate. But for me it risks distracting from the huge sweeping significance of this Energy White Paper and the exciting new phase of the UK’s green industrial revolution plans. The precise level of nuclear power in the UK electricity mix in 2040 is an extremely important discussion with potentially costly implications, but it is not as significant or impactful as the Business Secretary declaring the government’s official energy strategy is to engineer “decisive and permanent shift away from our dependence on fossil fuels”. Now, that’s news. Yes, new nuclear looks eye-wateringly expensive when set against new renewables capacity currently, and as such the government would be very wise to drive the hardest of bargains in its upcoming talks with new developers and be willing to pursue alternative clean power trajectories if necessary. But it is also true that every credible model suggests there is a point where the costs and complexities of managing a grid with 80 per cent plus renewables does get very challenging. Building out renewables capacity as fast as possible should be the top priority, but it would be remiss of the government to rule out other zero emission power sources at this point. We may yet need them.
Business Green 15th Dec 2020 read more »
There is an article in the FT this morning that suggests something that should be obvious, but needs saying. And that is that renewable energy is now bringing deflation into the energy market. The article is by Mark Lewis, who is is chief sustainability strategist at BNP Paribas Asset Management. As he puts it: With the US poised to rejoin the Paris Agreement under the incoming Biden administration and the proliferation of net-zero commitments from various governments, the romance between equity markets and renewable-energy goes from strength to strength. But in all the excitement about the future of renewables, a bigger truth is being overlooked: the underlying reason for the astonishing transformation of renewables over the past decade from niche to mainstream competing head-to-head with fossil fuels is economic rather than environmental. And as he adds: Wind and solar are intrinsically deflationary, whereas fossil fuels are intrinsically inflationary. This has huge implications for the distribution of value across the global energy system over the next three decades. What is the reason for the risk of putting anther nuclear reactor on the Suffolk coast where the chance that it will be flooded within the foreseeable future is high? I wish I knew. We now have the option of viable energy to sustain the transition we need. More investment in it only increases its appeal. And yet still we stick with the harmful solutions. I have never got this. I never will.
Tax Research UK 16th Dec 2020 read more »
Copeland Council welcomes Energy White Paper: “The energy system of the future will be a balanced one of large, small and advanced nuclear fission, fusion and renewables, generating low carbon electricity, plus cogeneration of industrial and domestic heat, hydrogen and other low carbon fuels for aviation and shipping. “With around 11,000 days to 2050, Copeland is the place to accelerate development and deployment of these clean energy technologies. Our supply chain capability, skills and sites within a supportive community provide the perfect environment to rapidly develop and deploy advanced nuclear technologies including small and advanced modular reactors, high temperature gas-cooled reactors, medical isotope production, space propulsion systems and fusion power. “We are working with the UK SMR consortium, to support an accelerated deployment of this UK technology near Sellafield, for cogeneration of low carbon hydrogen and synthetic e-fuels for aviation – trailblazing the way towards Jet Zero.
Copeland Borough Council 15th Dec 2020 read more »