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New Nuclear vs Renewables

The International Energy Agency (IEA) concluded in a report last year that global nuclear power development is moving too slowly to allow the world to meet its Sustainable Development Scenarios. In fact, it says the rate of construction is half what it needs to be. In contrast, a new paper from the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU), a research group at the UK’s Brighton University, argues that a nuclear power programme is in conflict with sustainable development goals. Launching the paper, Differences in carbon emissions reduction between countries pursuing renewable electricity versus nuclear power, the SPRU group said that countries with large national nuclear programmes do not tend to show significantly lower carbon emissions. It claims the study shows that nuclear and renewable energy programmes do not tend to co-exist well in low-carbon energy systems because they crowd each other out. System operator National Grid ESO (NGESO) said it had been given an experience of operating with a renewable energy contribution, in percentage terms, that it had not expected for a decade. The problem for NGESO was in maintaining inertia (ie help regulate frequency and voltage to maintain supply stability). In the long term it expects to be able to get most of these services from renewables or fast-acting storage, with the aid of software control and real-time monitoring of system conditions. In the meantime, as it did in the past, it uses the physical momentum in large rotating machinery – the turbine generators in thermal power plant. The nuclear industry will have to do a lot of convincing if it wants to become the low-carbon companion to renewables.

NS Energy 6th Jan 2021 read more »

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