Category Archives: Renew your energy

Nuclear power – game over?

By Dave Elliott

Foratom, the European nuclear trade body, commenting on the European Commission’s ‘Clean Energy for All Europeans’ plan, says the EU’s aim to decarbonise the economy by over 80% by 2050 cannot be achieved without nuclear power. ‘Nuclear energy accounts for half of the low-CO2 base-load electricity currently generated in the EU. It provides reliable low-CO2 base-load electricity and can provide the flexibility of dispatch required to balance the increasing share of intermittent energy sources, hence continuing to contribute to security of supply.’ It wants an end to preferential treatment and ‘priority dispatch’ rules for renewables.

Foratom is not alone in pressing the case for nuclear. The World Nuclear Association is looking to an extra 1000 GW of nuclear capacity globally by 2050, while a Global Nexus Initiative report says it will be extremely hard, if not impossible, to meet the Paris COP21 climate goals ‘without a significant contribution from nuclear power’ – globally 4000 GW will be needed by 2100.

Given the somewhat constrained situation facing the nuclear industry at present, stuck at around a 11% global contribution while renewables roar ahead to 24% and beyond, with prices continually falling, is there any reality in these nuclear ambitions?

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In praise of (total) demand response

By Dave Elliott

‘If we could manage to adjust all energy demand to variable solar and wind resources, there would be no need for grid extensions, balancing capacity or overbuilding renewable power plants. Likewise, all the energy produced by solar panels and wind turbines would be utilised, with no transmission losses and no need for curtailment or energy storage’.

So says an interesting, wide ranging but wellreferenced article in Low Tech Magazine. It goes on ‘of course, adjusting energy demand to energy supply at all times is impossible, because not all energy using activities can be postponed. However, the adjustment of energy demand to supply should take priority, while the other strategies should play a supportive role’. (more…)

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BEIS is optimistic about UK energy future

By Dave Elliott

The revised projections for energy up to 2035 from the UK Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) are generally very optimistic. It expects low-carbon sources of electricity to supply 68% of UK power generation by 2020, 70% by 2025, 76% by 2030 and 86% by 2035. That of course includes nuclear, and assumes that the proposed new reactor projects will go ahead, although BEIS now expects one less plant will be in place by 2030 than originally hoped, so nuclear only reaches 13GW in all by 2035. And it is now also pessimistic about Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS); there is only 1GW in use in its scenario even by 2035. But it is very optimistic about renewables – it sees them expanding rapidly to 45GW by 2035, up from the 36GW projection in 2016. Let’s hope they are right! (more…)

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EU Renewables Policy: mixed reactions

By Dave Elliott

The European Union’s renewable energy policy is one of the most ambitious attempts to facilitate a transition towards a more sustainable energy system. A new book, ‘A Guide to EU Renewable Energy Policy’, edited by Israel Solorio and Helge Jörgens and published by Edward Elgar, provides a comprehensive guide to the policy, its implementation and reactions, with contributions from a range of key academics – 24 in all.

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A ‘gross’ miscalculation

By Dave Elliott

The International Energy Agency (IEA) ‘underreports (the) contribution solar and wind by a factor of three’ compared to fossil fuels, according to a recent report. I and others have been pointing this out regularly, but it’s good to see this methodological anomaly (if that’s what it is) exposed and explored in more detail in an article by Erik Sauar. (more…)

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European wind co-operation could benefit all

By Dave Elliott

‘European cooperation could provide more stable wind power’. So says a new Imperial College study. Co-author Dr Iain Staffell, from Imperial’s Centre for Environmental Policy, said: ‘Some weather regimes are characterised by storms rolling in from the Atlantic bringing high winds to northwest or southwest Europe, but these are accompanied by calm conditions in the east. Other regimes see calmer weather from the Atlantic and a huge drop in wind production in Germany, the British Isles and Spain. But at the same time, wind speeds consistently increase in southeast Europe, and this is why countries such as Greece could act as a valuable counterbalance to Europe’s current wind farms.’

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Common concerns about wind power

by Dave Elliott

Wind power is expanding in the UK, offshore especially (now at 5.8GW), but also on land, with 11.4GW installed so far despite the government’s block on Contracts for Difference (CfD) support for on-shore projects, and occasional objections on the grounds of adverse local impacts. So it is good to see the second updated edition of an excellent well-researched study of local impacts and issues from the Centre for Sustainable Energy, with evidence-based analysis drawing on peer-reviewed and publicly-funded studies covering all the aspects in some detail.

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Do batteries and EVs ‘change everything’?

By Dave Elliott

You almost need to draw a line under what has come before and start again. There is no doubt that batteries completely and utterly metamorphose the market in that they make the uncontrollable controllable. It makes the arguments against renewable energy fall away’. Nick Boyle, founder of Europe’s largest solar operator, Lightsource.

And batteries in electric vehicles (EVs) take it to a new level, with IRENA claiming that ‘EVs can be used to enable a higher share of variable renewable energy in the power system’. So does all this add up to technological revolution? (more…)

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Transitional green power issues – sectorial conflicts

By Dave Elliott

It is often said that, whereas it should be possible to meet electricity needs from renewables, heating is harder and transport harder still. While wind and solar and other renewables can generate electricity and replace the use of fossil plants, heating and vehicle transport use of fossil fuels are harder to replace. Except possibly by the use of renewable electricity. Although some disagree, there should be enough renewable electricity output to meet all energy needs in time. However, even enthusiasts accept that there may not be enough to go around initially. So there may be sectorial conflicts at some stages.

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Industrial strategy: greening industry

By Dave Elliott

Following on from an earlier Green paper and its Clean Growth Strategy, the UK government has now produced a White Paper on Industrial Strategy. Although examples are provided of specific infrastructure projects and opportunities, it’s mostly couched in very general policy terms, identifying four ‘Grand Challenges’. It says we must put the UK at the forefront of the artificial intelligence and data revolution; maximise the advantages for UK industry from the global shift to clean growth; become a world leader in shaping the future of mobility; and harness the power of innovation to help meet the needs of an ageing society’.  (more…)

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