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Author Topic: Hitachi scraps Wylfa new nuclear plans  (Read 664 times)
dan_b
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« on: September 15, 2020, 04:52:17 PM »

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-54158091

Oh dear.
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« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2020, 11:39:07 AM »

Good or bad news? Can't decide.
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dan_b
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« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2020, 11:59:13 AM »

I’m leaning back towards nuclear being a necessary part of our zero carbon generating capacity.  Only have to look at the last few days where we’re burning everything going to keep up as been pretty much zero wind and demand is back to “normal”.

Of course it’s very expensive but so would be massive blackouts. 

Maybe EDD will step up and chuck in another pair of EPRs...
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« Reply #3 on: September 16, 2020, 12:00:28 PM »

I'm more than a little surprised it got as far as it did. Nuclear works financially (well, sort of) when you have lots of the same reactor design and can share some of the fixed costs. As soon as construction started on the first EPR, we're essentially committed to that design and shouldn't build anything else. You'd think we would have learned that lesson after the AGR fiasco, but apparently not.

Whether nuclear works at all is a separate issue - that needs much more data about the cost of intermittency (also a problem for nuclear it should be noted) over the next 50 years than I've seen. My suspicion is that it probably does, but needs quite a big & homogeneous nuclear fleet in a country to do so. There are certainly lots of different ways to do the same thing, and I haven't yet seen any persuasive comparative cost analysis.
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« Reply #4 on: September 16, 2020, 12:38:41 PM »

Good or bad news? Can't decide.

For reactor staff who are, for personal reasons, unable to work anywhere other than Wylfa, it's bad news.

But it means we'll be able to spend the same money and get much more clean energy, and much faster, by building renewables. So, good news for the taxpayer, the billpayer, and the climate.
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« Reply #5 on: September 16, 2020, 12:44:10 PM »

Whether nuclear works at all is a separate issue - that needs much more data about the cost of intermittency (also a problem for nuclear it should be noted) over the next 50 years than I've seen.

Indeed, it's an ongoing area of research. For an academic, it's a little frustrating, because the real discovery is happening in the markets - the capacity market, enhanced frequency reserve market, and so on. But the frustration is mitigated by the integration costs coming in, so far, well below what any of us expected.

There are still open questions about the costs of intermittency for the last 5-10% or so. But we've got a bit of time before we get to 90% zero-carbon energy to work it out, and we have options to get to 100%, so it's not a question of "if", but of "at what cost" for that last step.

In reality, until grids start getting to 70%+ of wind+pv+river hydro, we're unlikely to see the market caring much about producing solutions for 90-100%, because the profit just isn't there yet for them to do so.
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dan_b
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« Reply #6 on: September 16, 2020, 02:04:20 PM »

Hence my slightly tongue in cheek comment about whether EDF steps in with a plan for a 3rd site using the EPRs.  Surely that would be a reasonably sensible approach and would presumably lower the costs of the EPR at Sizewell C as well potentially?

The problem with sorting out the intermittency issue is that "we" (National Grid) can't afford to get it wrong. Once.  There is a lot of clever stuff going on with market pricing and all sorts of grid stability services that I still don't really understand, but as has been said quite a few times on here now - when the wind stops blowing for 2 weeks at a time, and coincides with a period of high demand, it's no use having 100GW of wind and nothing else.  The power has to come from somewhere.   We're aiming for 10% capacity via HVDC imports I believe, that still leaves a colossal amount of power that would have to come from solar, hydro and storage.  Hence me coming back around to the idea that the cost of not having (for example) 10GW of nuclear to keep the lights on (and the EV wheels turning!) is too high.  It's expensive insurance I guess?   



I'm more than a little surprised it got as far as it did. Nuclear works financially (well, sort of) when you have lots of the same reactor design and can share some of the fixed costs. As soon as construction started on the first EPR, we're essentially committed to that design and shouldn't build anything else. You'd think we would have learned that lesson after the AGR fiasco, but apparently not.

Whether nuclear works at all is a separate issue - that needs much more data about the cost of intermittency (also a problem for nuclear it should be noted) over the next 50 years than I've seen. My suspicion is that it probably does, but needs quite a big & homogeneous nuclear fleet in a country to do so. There are certainly lots of different ways to do the same thing, and I haven't yet seen any persuasive comparative cost analysis.
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« Reply #7 on: September 16, 2020, 02:36:31 PM »

The power has to come from somewhere.   We're aiming for 10% capacity via HVDC imports I believe, that still leaves a colossal amount of power that would have to come from solar, hydro and storage.  Hence me coming back around to the idea that the cost of not having (for example) 10GW of nuclear to keep the lights on (and the EV wheels turning!) is too high.  It's expensive insurance I guess?   

Well, quite. We've got the capacity market to tell us what the marginal cost of backup capacity is, and it's tiny.

But right now, we don't have a market or price discovery for 5 TWh of storage; and that's why Rough gas storage was closed. Right now, we don't need it, but we will need it, which means we need to incentivise it to get built before we need it. This is a matter for NG-ESO, Ofgem and BEIS between them, and it needs all three. But while NG-ESO & Ofgem have people who think through this stuff and plan for it, BEIS are much more at the whim of ministers.
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« Reply #8 on: September 16, 2020, 03:45:15 PM »

The government's own figures now have LCOE of wind and PV at £40-£60*/MWh and nuclear at £100/MWh.

*The upper figure is for off-shore wind, but the latest contracts were for £46/MWh.

So if we say (worst case) RE is £50/MWh and nuclear is £100/MWh, then that gives us £50/MWh to spend on storage, so it seems RE wins.
But of course not all the RE needs to be stored, most, but let's just say 50% will be consumed at time of generation, so that means only half needs storage, giving it £100/MWh to spend on storage, so RE wins.
But wait, there's more, nuclear also needs storage if we are comparing it fairly, since an average amount of nuclear would over supply at times, and under supply at others (just like RE) so the '+ storage' cost for RE is in itself debatable when compared to nuclear.

The only argument for nuclear is that we aren't rolling out enough RE (or fast enough), but if we have any short falls, or want to roll out generation faster (a decision needed to opt nuclear) then we can of course simply roll out RE faster, instead, and at a lower cost, and at a lower CO2(e) for the leccy when the 5-10yrs of additional FF emissions during the nuclear build, are taken into account.

It's a kin to saying we will have to build factories to produce expensive hydrogen fuel cell cars, because we aren't building enough factories to make cheap BEV's fast enough. The alternative of course would be to build more BEV factories. A shortfall, or stop gap argument relies entirely on an ability to scale up the better technology, and there is no such issue when it comes to RE and scaleability.

So my pointing to suggested gaps, or short falls is not an argument, just a trick! It all comes back each time to a decision to roll out more low carbon generation, and at that point nuclear goes head to head with RE, which has no scaleability issues, and can be rolled out far faster than nuclear, and far cheaper.
So in any and all of the scenarios I can imagine, reality always brings us back to what makes most sense now going forward, and that's been RE for some time.
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« Reply #9 on: September 16, 2020, 05:03:42 PM »

So if we say (worst case) RE is £50/MWh and nuclear is £100/MWh, then that gives us £50/MWh to spend on storage, so it seems RE wins.
But of course not all the RE needs to be stored, most, but let's just say 50% will be consumed at time of generation, so that means only half needs storage, giving it £100/MWh to spend on storage, so RE wins.
But wait, there's more, nuclear also needs storage if we are comparing it fairly, since an average amount of nuclear would over supply at times, and under supply at others (just like RE) so the '+ storage' cost for RE is in itself debatable when compared to nuclear.
y and all of the scenarios I can imagine, reality always brings us back to what makes most sense now going forward, and that's been RE for some time.

But the demand for electricity cycles daily so the storage for nuclear would be for <1/2 day. RE, unfortunately cycles randomly, and storage might need to be for a couple of weeks, so RE storage could require at least 25 times as much storage as Nuclear for the same load to be supplied. So claiming RE wins seems to me a little premature.

In winter when we need the most electricity, solar contributes almost nothing, so the only realistic RE supply in quantity is wind, and long calm periods in winter coincide with colder periods and higher energy demand. Having all our eggs in one wind basket would seem to be tempting fate and as Dan said earlier reliability of supply is paramount.

I thought that the interconnectors were already at about the 10% mark with more in the pipeline, can anyone provide figures?
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M
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« Reply #10 on: September 16, 2020, 05:14:55 PM »

So if we say (worst case) RE is £50/MWh and nuclear is £100/MWh, then that gives us £50/MWh to spend on storage, so it seems RE wins.
But of course not all the RE needs to be stored, most, but let's just say 50% will be consumed at time of generation, so that means only half needs storage, giving it £100/MWh to spend on storage, so RE wins.
But wait, there's more, nuclear also needs storage if we are comparing it fairly, since an average amount of nuclear would over supply at times, and under supply at others (just like RE) so the '+ storage' cost for RE is in itself debatable when compared to nuclear.
y and all of the scenarios I can imagine, reality always brings us back to what makes most sense now going forward, and that's been RE for some time.

But the demand for electricity cycles daily so the storage for nuclear would be for <1/2 day. RE, unfortunately cycles randomly, and storage might need to be for a couple of weeks, so RE storage could require at least 25 times as much storage as Nuclear for the same load to be supplied. So claiming RE wins seems to me a little premature.

In winter when we need the most electricity, solar contributes almost nothing, so the only realistic RE supply in quantity is wind, and long calm periods in winter coincide with colder periods and higher energy demand. Having all our eggs in one wind basket would seem to be tempting fate and as Dan said earlier reliability of supply is paramount.

I thought that the interconnectors were already at about the 10% mark with more in the pipeline, can anyone provide figures?

What about demand in the winter being greater than in the summer, wouldn't nuclear need more than half a day's storage in that case?

And are we classing nuclear as baseload. If the nuclear comes on line in 10+ yrs time, shouldn't its generation need storage if demand is met by wind and solar, and the nuclear is additional?

I think there are multiple ways to look at this, but in the end nuclear only is as dependent on storage as RE only is. So we can look to total costs (since there is no scaleability nor cost issues with rolling out more RE) be that RE + (RE + storage) v's nuclear + (nuclear + storage), and RE will of course win.

Please understand, I'm more than happy to be proved wrong, but in all the years I've been suggesting this, and the huge number of times I've been told that we need nuclear (because of storage of RE), nobody has ever gone further and shown how the higher cost of nuclear generation works out cheaper than RE + (RE + storage).
I'd love to see some numbers we can play with and chat about, but until then I'm simply not moved in anyway by a 'but RE needs storage' or 'RE needs more storage', since it's only a part of the calculation (that I believe RE wins) not proof that RE loses.



Edit - Actually, and I'm not trying to be difficult, maybe azps can help with this, but the more I think about it, the less I'm convinced that nuclear needs less storage. It seems logical to me that in the UK we would roll out RE capacity with a winter bias, so on average, we get less total generation in the summer, and more total generation in the winter, which would help us (on average) meet demand. Whereas nuclear, built out to meet annual average demand, even with summer refueling, would always produce too little in the winter and too much in the summer, and could [I'm only playing here, I don't know] therefore need more total storage capacity than RE.

Seems to me, the only way to argue for nuclear is to remove any large impact it will have by rolling out a pretty small amount, say 20% or less, and at that point we've probably gone to such silly lengths to protect it / justify it, that it would have been simpler, cheaper and faster just to roll out some more RE and storage instead.
« Last Edit: September 16, 2020, 05:26:15 PM by M » Logged

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« Reply #11 on: September 16, 2020, 06:34:41 PM »

Mart, consider you’re in charge, would you be comfortable that RE plus storage plus synthetic methane etc would provide sufficient electricity during a winter blocking anticyclone ?

Considering this would be associated with low/non existent winds, low level haze and mist/fog reducing already low insolation and increased demand because of low temps.

I think the last significant one (from memory) was 2010 when, in the South West, we had 2-3 weeks of low temps with day time temps not getting above 0oC (or only just).

I accept this is unusual, but do we have to plan our infrastructure for once a decade/century/millenium event.

I’m not being awkward or difficult, I’d love to think RE can provide our energy needs - it’s the once a decade type event that would concern me. I’m sure there are other scenarios - if our summers become warmer with greater dependence on AC - that would be challenging.

Again, a long summer anticyclonic event with no/low wind could be very challenging.
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« Reply #12 on: September 16, 2020, 06:53:03 PM »

OK, think of it this way, we will roll out mostly RE, nuclear will only be a small part.

So the real question isn't about eggs and baskets, or one off events, it's about looking specifically at the part that nuclear will supply and seeing if substituting that with more RE and storage is a better and cheaper solution.

I'm not in any way suggesting we take a risk, a gamble, a chance, I'm suggesting that RE + storage is a better solution than nuclear. If I'm right, then why go for nuclear. In your response you suggest a problem but don't supply any costings to show that the nuclear option will be cheaper or better than a RE + storage one, and that's my point, what is actually better, when are there too many baskets, rather than too few.


And it's not just me, the government was to roll out 16GW of nuclear, but back in 2018, long before the incredibly cheap off-shore wind contracts of 2019, the Government's own advisors, the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC), told them to scale back to HPC + 1 (approx 6GW), and instead keep an eye on the falling costs of RE and storage - perhaps they've been reading my posts!

If we absolutely need nuclear to guarantee supply, then that's fine with me, I'm simply saying that the alternative maybe (and dopes appear to me) better ...... and cheaper.

Cool down nuclear plan because renewables are better bet, ministers told

Quote
The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) said the government should cool down plans for a nuclear new build programme that envisage as many as six plants being built.

The commission, launched by George Osborne in 2015, said that a decade ago it would have been unthinkable that renewables could be affordable and play a major role in electricity generation. But the sector had undergone a “quiet revolution” as costs fell, it said.


Quote
But the NIC’s report was unequivocal. It said: “Government should not agree support for more than one nuclear power station beyond Hinkley Point C before 2025.”

Armitt said: “By that point we should be in better position on storage technology and presumably [will] continue to see a drop in price on renewables.”


PS - So you ask me what I would be happy with if I was in charge, and that would be finding the best solution, and at the best cost. Not including nuclear just for the sake of it, if the numbers don't add up.
« Last Edit: September 16, 2020, 06:55:11 PM by M » Logged

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« Reply #13 on: September 16, 2020, 07:00:23 PM »

What about demand in the winter being greater than in the summer, wouldn't nuclear need more than half a day's storage in that case?

Agreed that demand in winter is higher than summer, but demand during the day is higher than at night even in winter so surely that would mean storing less than half? If we treat all sources equally, then assuming we know the day and night loads it should be relatively easy to proportion the storage with the technology. We also know that in winter solar is negliable, but then wind is much less in summer (average) not sure how well these fit together.

And are we classing nuclear as baseload. If the nuclear comes on line in 10+ yrs time, shouldn't its generation need storage if demand is met by wind and solar, and the nuclear is additional?
Perhaps, but equally we could say we know the proportion that is base load and that which is non-base load. If we take the average and say anything above that needs storing and anything below comes from storage should that then be proportioned out across the different technologies. If so that would work to nuclears advantage as RE being intermittant would require more storage. aything that is additional needs storage then wouldn't that apply to future wind, solar, tidal etc. So as each wind form is retired the next one needs storage as nuclear was there first?


I think there are multiple ways to look at this, but in the end nuclear only is as dependent on storage as RE only is. So we can look to total costs (since there is no scaleability nor cost issues with rolling out more RE) be that RE + (RE + storage) v's nuclear + (nuclear + storage), and RE will of course win.

I agree there are many ways to look at this, but looking at just the costs is fraught with danger, what happens if someone drops the basket?


Please understand, I'm more than happy to be proved wrong, but in all the years I've been suggesting this, and the huge number of times I've been told that we need nuclear (because of storage of RE), nobody
has ever gone further and shown how the higher cost of nuclear generation works out cheaper than RE + (RE + storage).
I'd love to see some numbers we can play with and chat about, but until then I'm simply not moved in anyway by a 'but RE needs storage' or 'RE needs more storage', since it's only a part of the calculation (that I believe RE wins) not proof that RE loses.
My main concern with RE at present is that in winter when we most need energy, solar is almost non-existant and we would be relying almsot totally on wind. If one or preferably more other RE technologies could be provided at scale, such as tidal things would be much more comfortable. This country has already experienced the problem of relying on one technology for electricity production to heavily, I don't know if you remember the miner's strike in the 1970's - it may not be the actual technology that lets us down but something unexpected. What would happen if all the undersea cables from offshore wind got damaged at the same time for example?


Edit - Actually, and I'm not trying to be difficult, maybe azps can help with this, but the more I think about it, the less I'm convinced that nuclear needs less storage. It seems logical to me that in the UK we would roll out RE capacity with a winter bias, so on average, we get less total generation in the summer, and more total generation in the winter, which would help us (on average) meet demand. Whereas nuclear, built out to meet annual average demand, even with summer refueling, would always produce too little in the winter and too much in the summer, and could [I'm only playing here, I don't know] therefore need more total storage capacity than RE.

Seems to me, the only way to argue for nuclear is to remove any large impact it will have by rolling out a pretty small amount, say 20% or less, and at that point we've probably gone to such silly lengths to protect it / justify it, that it would have been simpler, cheaper and faster just to roll out some more RE and storage instead.

I'm not arguing for nuclear, what I would prefer is a mix of technologies without fossil fuel burning except in extreme circumstances. Creating and burning hydrogen from excess electricity might be a technology that we could utilise, but that would require producing the electricty first from whateever source.

Alot of this comes back to the basics, reduce, reuse, recycle. We need to reduce our energy consumption, better insulate buidings, travel less etc. We need to reuse energy where we can, in buildings exhaust air heat pumps (to heat water if in summer for example), air conditioners should have the option to heat water and not just the outside air, in towns and cities perhaps a district heating system - certainly consider that on new estates - with well insulated housing ight not actually be worthwhile though.
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« Reply #14 on: September 16, 2020, 08:29:28 PM »

Taken your eye of what is the key legal objective which is to provide NET zero CO2 over the yr by 2050.  You guys are discusing a problem that does not even exist and will not exist.

There are other ways to achieve this than have expensive nuclear.

When we have no wind,no sun,run out of storage moments we just turn on the gas stations which we already have.
Those stations will be burning hydrogen produced by excessive RE, which we already have now and will be getting 3X more by 2050.  Already RE does not require subsidy and therefore there is nothing as Mart says for us not to go out tomorrow and build as much as we need.

Then we have TOU tariffs and demand shifting. Various forms of storage eg EVs, HW, Domestic batts. Hydro (in many forms),Biomass (in many forms),Import from other countries and ....

Give us a break.

Ken
« Last Edit: September 16, 2020, 08:43:28 PM by brackwell » Logged
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