Guest post by Energy Matters’ commentators Alex Terrell and Andy Dawson. In part 2 of their trilogy, Alex and Andy examine how the UK 2050 electricity demand may be met by a nuclear dominated supply model. It requires 85 GW of nuclear capacity in the UK. The model is founded on existing technology and existing UK nuclear sites. But as the decades pass goes on to include new UK nuclear sites previously occupied by coal fired power stations and clusters of small modular reactors (SMRS) that have yet to be built, licensed and tested. It concludes by introducing the concept of nuclear islands built in very shallow water off the English coast.
The clear implication of the above analysis is that there’s a major incompatibility between the concept of an all-nuclear grid and the ability to supply the more extreme ends of the probability distribution for demand. However, the effects of this are not as severe as might immediately be assumed; carbon output is not particularly time-sensitive in that our key parameter is annual output, and hence short periods of what might appear to be high levels of fossil fuel output have little effect.
Taking the weather related demand model from the last 20 years of temperature records allows us to plot nuclear and gas plant utilisation on a daily basis, and to tabulate this into a capacity model.