Saturday, 19 March 2016

Damian Carrington gets everything wrong on nuclear power

At his Guardian blog, Damian Carrington gets everything wrong - about nuclear power and electricity in general. Five ways to power the UK that are far better than Hinkley Point. None of his 5 alternatives make sense.

'Energy efficiency' really means using less energy - less electricity in this case. It's because we use so much energy that our lives can be so productive. It's been estimated the electricity available to people in wealthy countries is roughly the equivalent of having 56 servants working for you in pre-industrial times. France uses far more electricity than Britain per capita. French worker productivity is also far better than Britain's. Just put 2 and 2 together.

Massive build out of wind and solar power (about 115,000 MegaWatts) has, if anything, increased German CO2 emissions. Germany hasn't seen a CO2 emissions fall since 2009. Its per capita emissions are actually up again last year, and up on 2009 by about 2%. The reason for this is because both wind and solar are intermittent. Output depends on time of day, season, and weather. Nuclear-abolishing Germany emits 12 times more CO2 per unit of electricity than nuclear-powered France. Germany keeps much of it coal-fueled power burning all the time. Because boilers must be kept hot so that the generators can quickly go on grid to meet demand. .

The intermittency of solar and wind make such electricity both more expensive and more CO2-intensive than Damian would have us believe. It's more expensive because we need just as much fossil plant as we used before to meet mid-winter peak demand when solar delivers nothing and wind can fall as low as 1% of nameplate capacity [as often happens during a very cold period]. We pay for two sets of electricity generation. Solar and wind are more CO2-intense than claimed because fossil powered electricity runs less efficiently with wind and solar on the grid. see: GETTING TO ZERO: The hidden CO2 emissions from renewables

Can more interconnectors improve things for Britain. We already import a lot more electricity than we export. So yes, we can import more. Nuclear powered France often has more electricity than she needs - most of the year - apart from when France faces peak demand. Herein lies the problem with interconnectors: peak French demand often coincides with peak British demand and, if that happens on windless days, it will be disastrous for Britain. Rather than export to us, the French will, rightly, take care of themselves first. The same problem applies to other European countries. Their peak demand very often coincides with ours. We can't rely upon another myth fostered by the renewables community : that the wind is always blowing in a neighboring country when it's still here.

Energy storage can not fix the problem of renewable power intermittency because the cost would be out of this world. [ Vast amount of storage will be required, Energy returned on energy invested makes storage-backed wind and solar non-viable. ]

Cost reductions - almost everything can fall in cost. Nuclear power too. At £18bn, the Hinkley EPR reactors are US $7770/kiloWatt. Lovering, Yip and Nordhaus show that South Korea, for example, can deliver nuclear power at only US $2000/kiloWatt. There's a thorium molten salt reactor design : ThorCon, claiming US $1000/kiloWatt. In order to take advantage of these we need to take on Damian and his anti-nuclear power mates.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for bringing logic and reality to this oft debated issue.