Tuesday, 7 October 2014

How more nuclear will waste wind power

As noticed by Chris Goodall, in his column in the Guardian environment network, wind power production has for the first time exceeded nuclear. See http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/oct/06/uk-wind-power-bests-nuclear-power-for-a-few-symbolic-minutes

But what Goodall misses, it seems completely, is that building more nuclear power stations will simply waste more wind power. He seems to claim that 'all' the investment in wind power will be 'wasted' unless we build a lot more interconnectors etc to accommodate fluctuating wind power supplies. Well, we do need more balancing of a variety of types, including demand response, interconnectors and as it gets cheaper, various types of storage, but it is an exaggeration to say that 'all' wind investment will be wasted.

The big waste comes with the nuclear investment. The problem with the ability of the electricity system to absorb more variable wind power supplies lies with the inability, and unwillingness, of nuclear operators to turn down their production when there is more wind power than can be absorbed by the grid. So obviously building more nuclear power stations (which are more expensive, MWh for MWh anyway than onshore wind for example) will only make the situation worse - more wind power will be wasted than will otherwise be the case without the nuclear power.

It would be helpful if Chris made this point - but I can see why he doesn't, because he advocates more investment in nuclear power. This is the biggest problem as far as Chris Goodall's commentary is concerned. He should clearly re-think his support for building more nuclear power before he starts to implicitly criticise wind power for its variability.

No comments:

Post a Comment