Australian news, and some related international items

Britain’s National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) advises government against new nuclear power projects.

UK NIC backs alternatives to nuclear,   Renew Extra Weekly, 2 Jan 21, The UK Government asked the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) for its advice on whether an additional new nuclear plant, beyond the proposed Sizewell C project, was needed to deliver the UK’s sixth Carbon (reduction) Budget, due in 2035. In response, the NIC said no, it was not needed or viable for 2035, since new nuclear was slow to deploy. It asserted that ‘it is highly unlikely that a new large scale nuclear plant is deliverable in the next 15 years; trying and failing would jeopardise delivery of the sixth Carbon Budget’. Instead it backed renewables, hydrogen and low/negative carbon technology- which is said could be deployed faster.
It noted that ‘since 1990, nuclear projects have faced significant delays all around the world. Even just in Europe around half of all plants have faced at least a 50% delay in construction, and 1 in 4 plants have faced at least a 90% delay in construction’. So it said that ‘any nuclear project schedule estimate should be expected to take at least 50% longer than planned. If a new project began development next year and took the same amount of time as the Hinkley Point C project is expected to take to complete, it would not come online until at least the mid 2040s’. So that put it well outside the 2035 timeframe.

Small Modular/advanced reactors might be a faster option, but the NIC said ‘relying on significant capacity being deployed before 2035 would be risky’. It pointed out that ‘no SMR has gone through the Generic Design Assessment process and some developer proposals are conditional on government support to progress project development. There are no SMRs in operation in countries similar to the UK.

To fill the same capacity gap illustrated in the BEIS modelling, at least six SMRs would be needed by 2035, if not more. This would require compressing the normal delivery timeline and doing things in parallel rather than in sequence, significantly increasing the risk of delays. Delivery success will also be dependent on the capability of the developer.’

Alternatives  likely to be faster 

Instead of these nuclear options, for delivery within the timeframe to 2035, it backed ‘renewables with a combination of gas power plants with carbon capture and storage, hydrogen fired gas plants and bioenergy with carbon capture & storage’. It said ‘these alternatives are more likely to be deliverable at scale in the next 15 years’. …………………..

even without costing analysis, it said its analysis clearly demonstrated ‘that a third new nuclear plant is not necessary to reach the 2035 emissions target and that more gas CCS, hydrogen powered gas plants, and BECCS could be deployed instead. Whilst these technologies are yet to be deployed at scale, the Commission considers them to be a lower delivery risk than nuclear.’ And it claimed that its proposed alternative technology mix was supported by analysis previously conducted for the Commission and by other bodies such as National Grid ESO & the Climate Change Committee. …………………

It’s odd that the NIC plunge into CCS and Hydrogen, rather than talking about renewables more. Maybe they are taken for granted. But if, led by wind and solar, they could be expanded much faster than BEIS and NIC envisage, then maybe we could forget about fossil CCS, BECCS and also Sizewell C. That might be helped if tidal stream technology could also get going- with CfD help, it ought to be able to by 2030. Geothermal too, for heat and power. All NIC says is that, from the BEIS analysis, it’s clear that ‘significant volumes of renewables are needed to deliver a low carbon power system by 2035. This is supported by previous analysis for the Commission and others. Rapid cost reductions and short and reliable build profiles mean that renewables will be the backbone of any future GB power system’. OK, fine, but we need details & plans now for faster expansion, along with a much improved commitment to energy saving!

January 3, 2022 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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