Tom Burke: We don’t need nuclear power to keep the lights on, which is fortunate as nuclear power stations are unplanned offline about 25% of the time. They are intermittent, as is all energy generation, so it is fortunate that we don’t actually need base load power. It’s about five years since the then Chief Executive of Wood Mackenzie Steve Halliday, said baseload is an outmoded concept of how you manage an electricity grid, and that’s because we have modern sensors, we have deep data, deep analytics, we have much more sophisticated software, and we are able to manage our electricity system in a way that delivers affordable and reliable electricity, much more efficiently that we were able to do in the past, and we simply don’t need very big base load power stations of any kind any more, and certainly not ones the size of the new Hinkley Station at 3.2 gigawatts. The cost of renewables has gone down, the cost of storage has gone down, absolutely dramatically, far faster than anybody thought possible, and we are now in a position to deliver all of the electricity that people need over the coming decades, without reliance on nuclear power stations any more than we are reliant on big coal fired power stations. Toward the end of the coming decade we will be able to do it without reliance on gas either. We are moving into a very different kind of electricity system, and the idea that nuclear power, which is essentially a 20th Century technology, is what you need to solve a 21st Century problem is simply wrong.
Tom Burke 25th June 2019 read more »
Letter submitted to Guardian. I was really surprised to read this sentence in your new energy correspondent Jillian Ambrose’s report on electricity generation going greener (“Fossil fuels produce less than half of UK electricity for first time,” 21 June) viz: “UK homes and businesses will rely more on clean electricity generated by wind farms, solar panels, hydro power and nuclear power reactors.” I cannot understand how she could put renewable energy conversion technologies alongside nuclear, and describe both as ‘clean.’ The former, to be sure, are virtually clean (after manufacture of the conversion technology, such as turbines or panels), but nuclear is certainly not “clean.”
David Lowry’s Blog 26th June 2019 read more »