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UK Power Industry - a turning point?

Discussion in 'Speaker's Corner' started by PlacidCasual, May 12, 2016.

  1. alx

    Soldato

    Joined: Aug 10, 2003

    Posts: 6,003

    Location: Dubai, UAE

    I see your point about gas, but in reality more and more of our power will be generated by gas due to its lower emissions and the relatively short time it takes to build a gas power plant. It's going to become a conveniet stop gap for our power generation due to the delay in nuclear plants and the emissions issues with coal/oil.
     
  2. Mr Jack

    Capodecina

    Joined: May 19, 2004

    Posts: 17,258

    Location: Kiel, Germany

    We should have gone nuclear but now I don't think it makes much sense (particularly with the government's chosen approach). We should be planning power 20-30 years in advance, and 20-30 years is long enough to be bringing almost our entire power infrastructure over to renewables. Nuclear increasingly looks like a technology that's had its day.
     
  3. PlacidCasual

    Soldato

    Joined: May 13, 2003

    Posts: 6,012

    I would love for someone to explain how we are going to 100% renewables even in 20-30 years time. The Government hasn't made a serious effort and the effort by Greenpeace 10 odd years ago was risible.
     
  4. alx

    Soldato

    Joined: Aug 10, 2003

    Posts: 6,003

    Location: Dubai, UAE

    It's unlikely, very dependent on battery technology developing to the point mass storage of electricity is feasible.
     
  5. JeditOjanen

    Mobster

    Joined: Feb 7, 2011

    Posts: 4,481

    No, we should be planning for renewables with nuclear backup. You always need a backup, and fossil fuels are not as good as nuclear.
     
  6. VaderDSL

    Capodecina

    Joined: Oct 18, 2002

    Posts: 14,930

    Location: Manchester

    I'm also a bit torn on fracking, the U.S shows how it should not be done, un regulated cash grab scenario has caused untold damage to environments and water supplies. Would heavier regulations and extensive testing/safety procedures make Fracking safer?

    If so we would have a decent supply of gas to use domestically in lieu of burning coal, granted it's not clean but is it cleaner than coal? Combined Cycle Gas Turbines already account for a good % of our electricity supply, surely we need it whilst we get the Nuclear plants up and running as well as building up renewable options?

    Shouldn't the goal be to get rid of coal first and secure a domestic source of gas to supply our power stations rather than simply import it?

    Just a few questions I have really.
     
  7. Mr Jack

    Capodecina

    Joined: May 19, 2004

    Posts: 17,258

    Location: Kiel, Germany

    I'm glad I went to Wikipedia before stating that Nuclear wasn't much use for this as it doesn't do load-following because it turns out that newer Nuclear powerplants can do load-following :)

    However, nuclear is still a lot more expensive than fossil fuel plants so while it's on paper better than fossil fuel for this kind of backup you have to consider the opportunity cost of spending all that money on nuclear and I believe that the extra money involved can be better spent on more renewable energy.

    The big question, of course, is when can we get commercially viable fusion power online. That really will be a game changer.
     
  8. Mr Jack

    Capodecina

    Joined: May 19, 2004

    Posts: 17,258

    Location: Kiel, Germany

    I was talking about what we should do not what we will do. What we will do is build an over-priced, French/Chinese sourced nuclear power station and pay over the odds for its power for decades to come while failing to properly invest in renewable energy, dropping legislative instruments designed to drive solar in new housing stock, and whining about wind farms.
     
  9. alx

    Soldato

    Joined: Aug 10, 2003

    Posts: 6,003

    Location: Dubai, UAE

    Fracking is perfectly safe if done correctly with the right regulation.

    The water supply issues are nearly always to do with well completions rather than the fracking of the reservoir itself (aquifers and oil/gas reservoirs are typically at significantly different depths).

    As you say, the 'gung-ho' nature of the US fracking industry has given it a bad name. Fracking is just a well stimulation method to get better flow from low porosity/low permiability reservoirs. The drilling and completion of the well is pretty much the same as every other 'normal' oil & gas well in the world.
     
  10. Orionaut

    Soldato

    Joined: Aug 2, 2012

    Posts: 6,522

    Google "Gasbuggy" :p
     
  11. JeditOjanen

    Mobster

    Joined: Feb 7, 2011

    Posts: 4,481

    Greater efficiency in terms of distributing money towards the end goal has to be balanced against backshafting the planet while we're getting there, though. No sense in achieving 100% renewable energy by 2050 if we've wrecked the biosphere by 2040.
     
  12. D1craig

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Aug 28, 2014

    Posts: 1,595

    Hasn't the tesla company developed a decent battery to store the power from solar and obviously all other generators?
     
  13. PlacidCasual

    Soldato

    Joined: May 13, 2003

    Posts: 6,012

    I believe he has designed a better battey, whether it is an economic solution, particularly in the UK given the age of our housing stock (thermal perofrmance) is a another question.
     
  14. APM

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Nov 9, 2011

    Posts: 1,413

    Location: Wales

    I was reading how America is testing some new,smaller,modular nuclear reactors.

    It does look interesting,I'll share a link if I can dig it up.
     
  15. Orionaut

    Soldato

    Joined: Aug 2, 2012

    Posts: 6,522

    GT-MHR?

    I wasn't aware that they had actually built any in the US yet.

    The High temp gas cooled reactors are also good for Hydrogen production using the Sulphur/Iodine cycle (Also developed by GA)
     
  16. Sliver

    Capodecina

    Joined: Dec 27, 2011

    Posts: 10,833

    Location: Darlington

    Hopefully we can sort out nuclear fusion reactors which use hydrogen fuel pellets to generate a plasma hotter than the sun which in theory could be used to power our countries. I've seen YT vids showing Tokamak reactors which use fusion energy by combining two emerging technologies – spherical tokamaks and high-temperature superconductors.

    I understand that France is currently building one such reactor right now in anticipation that the technology will come online in the near future to make it all work. As far as I know the only by-product from such reactors would be water, so making them very green and clean, renewable power sources.

    http://www.tokamakenergy.co.uk/
     
  17. Glaucus

    Man of Honour

    Joined: Mar 11, 2004

    Posts: 76,645

    every year that goes by nuclear is looking less and less attractive.
    Hinckley c is now predicted to be £33bn and that's not even including waste for thousands of years to come.
    in comparison 3GW(which is what Hinckley c is meant to be) of wind would be about £5bn, leaving huge amounts for grid storage which is currently about $800 per kwh, and falling.

    and you don't have to wait 10 years for production. if government did such a scheme we could pretty much instantly start installing more solar and wind.
    more money into tide and wave would help as well, could chuck a couple of billion to that as well.


    there still just lithium ion, the price has just fallen to where its useable, and is predicted to fall by ~40% in 2022, there is also molten salt "battery" storage amongst host of other ones. grid needs to be cheap with long life, weight and size is pretty irrelevant.
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2016
  18. PlacidCasual

    Soldato

    Joined: May 13, 2003

    Posts: 6,012

    Just for perspective winter peak demand is 60GW normally. Assume a 4 hour window between 4pm and 8pm in December where no solar power is being generated. We have a low over the UK so wind output is down to 1GW or less, which could happen 3 times a winter for 2 to 3 days according to a 2011 John Muir Trust assessment on wind power.

    So 60 GW = 60,000 MW = 60,000,000 kW

    For a 4 hour period you would need 240,000,000 kWh assuming no solar or wind supply is available.

    At a price of £600 per kWh that works out at £144,000,000,000 at current prices (so no cost improvement) to provide 4 hours of peak demand.

    As proof against current demand for a 3 day period mid winter, which is not an unfair requirement in my mind the storage capacity is going to have to be enormous if we only had wind or solar power.

    It is not a fair critique I'm just putting the numbers into perspective.

    £144 billion would buy you a minimum of 4 Hinkley C's even at an assumed cost of £35 billion a pop which would generate 14.4 GW or just under a quarter of peak demand. Although the grid risk associated with 3.6GW stations and 1.8GW reactors should one trip is really big and being overlooked by the Government and Ofgem, publically at least.
     
  19. Glaucus

    Man of Honour

    Joined: Mar 11, 2004

    Posts: 76,645

    Why are you comparing cost of 60Gw to cost of 3GW.
    That's also assuming 100% wind when in reality it would be a mix, even in deepest winter solar still produces.
    You've ignored long term costs of nuclear, which to be fair everyone does.

    Also the manufacturing boost from such a scheme would employ far more people and boost manufacturing. Which we could sell abroad. We are all ready good at wind, and lead the world in some areas.
    The calculation also ignores reduction of pice for both renewable and grid storage. Even with predicted tiny uptake of grid storage price is expected to fall to $500 per kwh by 2022, likely way before Hinckley c would be running. That's also before further reduction of such a massive scheme would bring, as seen by wind and solar.
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2016
  20. PlacidCasual

    Soldato

    Joined: May 13, 2003

    Posts: 6,012

    My apologies if it seems I have unfairly criticised you I did try to be clear I was trying to put some perspective on the problem of battery storage.

    I was suggesting that the cost of 4 hours of back up for 60GW of demand could by you 14.4GW of actual capacity not back up.

    In December after 4pm I would be surprised if anywhere in the mainland UK produced any solar electricity
    It is not unusual also for that to coincide with minimal wind output. So I was suggesting in a worst plausible case scenario (as opposed to the apolocyto never going to happen case) for a pure wind and solar generating fleet. You would need £144billion worth of battery storage to supply demand for 4 hours.

    That money could build a lot of nuclear power stations even at £35billion per station it could provide enough capacity (not storage) for nearly a quarter of current winter peak demand 4pm to 8pm in December.

    Say the price has reduced to £400 per kWh for storage you need a 1kWh per person per hour for maximum winter demand. So just to cover a 4 hour period you would need £1,600 per person a family of 4 would need £6,4000 of staorage to cover winter peak consumption for 4 hours. Ok that assume families are providing the storage for public uses too but the cost has to be born by the U population somewhere.

    I'm trying to be fair on open about the assumptions I'm making and only providing it for perspective. Energy storage if flipping expensive, a pile of coal is a far more practical store of energy than a battery for macrogeneration/storage needs. Although it is one that sef evidently will run out one day. Nuclear production on demand might be both more cost effective and practical than mass distributed storage.