The Future of Power Generation in Great Britain

The Future of Power Generation in Great Britain

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Discussion

hidetheelephants

16,941 posts

157 months

Wednesday 3rd March
quotequote all
take-good-care-of-the-forest-dewey said:
alangla said:
Potential new fusion station at Ratcliffe - https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-nottinghamsh...
Could be built...

You could build a giant statue of me dressed as a fat he-man astride battle cat but it's unlikely.
But it's only twenty years away... hehe

take-good-care-of-the-forest-dewey

1,177 posts

19 months

Wednesday 3rd March
quotequote all
loafer123 said:
take-good-care-of-the-forest-dewey said:
alangla said:
Potential new fusion station at Ratcliffe - https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-nottinghamsh...
Could be built...

You could build a giant statue of me dressed as a fat he-man astride battle cat but it's unlikely.
I would pay to see that. Not much, mind.
Me too... What a legacy.

Small child... 8 generations in the future... "Was that really great great,etc, grandad?" "Yes son it was...." Child... Rolls a tear of pride..."wow"

Mikehig

278 posts

25 months

Wednesday 3rd March
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Over the past few days we have been drawing a lot of power through the interconnectors from the Continent. As I type their input amounts to about 15% of demand.
Does anyone know the background to this? Is Europe awash with super-cheap power at the moment - presumably cheaper than incremental fuel for our gas plants?

Condi

11,513 posts

135 months

Wednesday 3rd March
quotequote all
Mikehig said:
Over the past few days we have been drawing a lot of power through the interconnectors from the Continent. As I type their input amounts to about 15% of demand.
Does anyone know the background to this? Is Europe awash with super-cheap power at the moment - presumably cheaper than incremental fuel for our gas plants?
Continental power is often cheaper than ours is; most of French power is from nuclear and so relatively cheap. Sometimes we export our generation to them, if we have lots of wind energy, but on the whole we do tend to import from Europe.

There was a new extension lead from France which was plugged in earlier this year and 2 new ones are being built - one to Norway and one to Denmark. One is supposed to be working this year too, but not sure when.

CraigyMc

12,219 posts

200 months

Thursday 4th March
quotequote all
Mikehig said:
Over the past few days we have been drawing a lot of power through the interconnectors from the Continent. As I type their input amounts to about 15% of demand.
Does anyone know the background to this? Is Europe awash with super-cheap power at the moment - presumably cheaper than incremental fuel for our gas plants?
If you ever wonder why the UK gets ahead on CO2 emissions reduction, it's partially because of this.

The interconnectors do work both ways. The original "good reason" for this was cheap French nuclear power, but a lot of those plants are coming to end of life and the cost of the new ones is quite high so the electricity unit cost will be pretty steep.

Mikehig

278 posts

25 months

Thursday 4th March
quotequote all
Condi said:
Continental power is often cheaper than ours is; most of French power is from nuclear and so relatively cheap. Sometimes we export our generation to them, if we have lots of wind energy, but on the whole we do tend to import from Europe.

There was a new extension lead from France which was plugged in earlier this year and 2 new ones are being built - one to Norway and one to Denmark. One is supposed to be working this year too, but not sure when.
Thanks. I guess it does confirm that ramping up their nukes a bit is so cheap that their "export" price is lower than our cost of incremental production.
If only we had built the other 7 plants following on from Sizewell......

Mikehig

278 posts

25 months

Thursday 4th March
quotequote all
CraigyMc said:
If you ever wonder why the UK gets ahead on CO2 emissions reduction, it's partially because of this.

The interconnectors do work both ways. The original "good reason" for this was cheap French nuclear power, but a lot of those plants are coming to end of life and the cost of the new ones is quite high so the electricity unit cost will be pretty steep.
France's nuclear plants are in the middle of a huge programme of refurbishment and modernisation - the "Grand Carenage". This will extend the fleet's working lives to 50+ years at a cost of €50 bn by 2025. It's a huge sum (about €1 bn per plant) but way cheaper than replacement cost so their power will probably stay very cost-competitive.

Condi

11,513 posts

135 months

Thursday 4th March
quotequote all
Mikehig said:
Thanks. I guess it does confirm that ramping up their nukes a bit is so cheap that their "export" price is lower than our cost of incremental production.
If only we had built the other 7 plants following on from Sizewell......
Yes and no - its not quite as simple as incremental cost because overnight our gas plants will normally shut down and then start again in the morning. Nukes don't do that, and so are still producing maximum power at 4am when most people are asleep.

It all comes down to the amount of wind generation in the UK - both second by second, but also much longer term trends - which makes the case for new thermal generation hard without subsidies/support. We have already had a weekend in the UK trade negative for 48 hours, the more wind and more nuclear power you get the more this will happen. The new nukes will be able to change load - go down overnight and back up again in the morning - but 20GW of baseload nuclear here in the UK would give National Grid almost as much of a problem as too little generation, as they need to have an amount of turndown available which isn't possible at the moment. Even with the current fleet they paid Sizewell to turn off one turbine for most of last summer in response to lower demands from Covid.

Evanivitch

8,793 posts

86 months

Thursday 4th March
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Condi said:
but 20GW of baseload nuclear here in the UK would give National Grid almost as much of a problem as too little generation, as they need to have an amount of turndown available which isn't possible at the moment.
And that's where we need better options for dumping that excess energy, be it incentives for domestic energy to charge cars/electric heaters, or for industry to dump energy into manufacturing processes or thermal stores.

Or imagine a scenario where everyone is running their immersion heater and keeping all the hot taps open laugh

CraigyMc

12,219 posts

200 months

Thursday 4th March
quotequote all
Evanivitch said:
Condi said:
but 20GW of baseload nuclear here in the UK would give National Grid almost as much of a problem as too little generation, as they need to have an amount of turndown available which isn't possible at the moment.
And that's where we need better options for dumping that excess energy, be it incentives for domestic energy to charge cars/electric heaters, or for industry to dump energy into manufacturing processes or thermal stores.

Or imagine a scenario where everyone is running their immersion heater and keeping all the hot taps open laugh
We could just boil the ocean. Call it a national heated pool.

(could it be used to synthetically create gasoline?)

Jambo85

2,290 posts

52 months

Thursday 4th March
quotequote all
CraigyMc said:
We could just boil the ocean. Call it a national heated pool.

(could it be used to synthetically create gasoline?)
Close - hydrogen smile

CraigyMc

12,219 posts

200 months

Thursday 4th March
quotequote all
Jambo85 said:
CraigyMc said:
We could just boil the ocean. Call it a national heated pool.

(could it be used to synthetically create gasoline?)
Close - hydrogen smile
Harder to transport and store. Also my cars don't run on that smile

hidetheelephants

16,941 posts

157 months

Thursday 4th March
quotequote all
CraigyMc said:
Jambo85 said:
CraigyMc said:
We could just boil the ocean. Call it a national heated pool.

(could it be used to synthetically create gasoline?)
Close - hydrogen smile
Harder to transport and store. Also my cars don't run on that smile
Once you have hydrogen you can synthesise most hydrocarbons, although it's not the only route to synthetic liquid fuel.

wombleh

1,108 posts

86 months

Thursday 4th March
quotequote all
Evanivitch said:
And that's where we need better options for dumping that excess energy, be it incentives for domestic energy to charge cars/electric heaters, or for industry to dump energy into manufacturing processes or thermal stores.
Crypto mining works quite well for China.

Can't see many Western governments going that route though smile

irc

1,744 posts

100 months

Thursday 4th March
quotequote all
Is the large UK wind fleet a wise strategy if it means we need to rely on foreign imports (bad energy security) to balance the grid and/or meet demand and means thermal power stations (good energy security) need subsidised. Maybe smaller subsidies for wind?

Condi

11,513 posts

135 months

Thursday 4th March
quotequote all
irc said:
Is the large UK wind fleet a wise strategy if it means we need to rely on foreign imports (bad energy security) to balance the grid and/or meet demand and means thermal power stations (good energy security) need subsidised. Maybe smaller subsidies for wind?
Ummm......... yes and no.

Firstly - wind subsidies. The latest round of CFD's for offshore wind cleared as low as £45. That means if the wholesale price is below £45 the government makes up the price to £45, but if the wholesale price is above that then the wind companies pay back the difference. £45 is lower than baseload power price, and so quite often these wind turbines will be actually paying back money to the government, rather than receiving subsidies. Granted, there are some CFDs at over £200, but that shows how much the cost of building and operating these things has come down, and that wouldn't have been possible without subs. Also some of the first generation of wind farms are now at the end of their subsidy regimes, and the sites are continuing to generate and even being upgrade without taxpayer support any more. The subsidy is a short term cost, but for long term gain and to be fair, is working. Onshore wind is now viable without subsidies at all, the only reason that more isn't being built is Cameron wanted no more onshore wind but more offshore wind, and while he didn't ban onshore wind, the planning changes made it virtually impossible to build across most of the UK.

Secondly - imports. We don't need to rely on imports. That is to say, if Europe stopped exporting power to us tomorrow then our network wouldn't fall down, however if power in Europe is cheaper then the more of that we can buy then the cheaper power prices are for consumers. It also adds redundancy and security to our own system. In general the more interconnected your network is the more resilient it is, which is a good thing. Interconnectors also allow us to export energy when it is cheap here - ie when it is windy - which then increases returns for investors and the wind companies.

Finally - thermal power stations are subsidised anyway, and have been for years. If you think about it like a pyramid, then we need enough power for that one cold day in the middle of winter when demand is at it's highest. Whichever power station is the last (most expensive) to come on for that one day is going to sit idle for the remaining 364 days of the year, and so is paid by the taxpayer to be available for that one day, basically. As wind increases then the extremes of high and low prices will become larger and so returns for thermal stations will be high on tight days, which maybe enough to keep them available with less subsidy from the taxpayer.


There is no right or wrong answer. Coal and gas have been used for years because they are cheap and reliable, but at the expense of being high carbon emitters. Wind is not reliable, but is cheap and is low carbon. Nuclear is low carbon and cheap to run, but incredibly expensive to build in the first place, and not very flexible when generating. It's why we need lots of technologies rather than relying on one.

Gary C

7,663 posts

143 months

Friday 5th March
quotequote all
Good summary

But its worth pointing out that the £45 price is as valued in 2012 so the actual price in 2021 is quite a bit higher.

Rostfritt

2,858 posts

115 months

Friday 5th March
quotequote all
Jambo85 said:
CraigyMc said:
We could just boil the ocean. Call it a national heated pool.

(could it be used to synthetically create gasoline?)
Close - hydrogen smile
As I understand, a small percentage (up to 15%) of natural gas in the grid could be substituted for hydrogen without needing to convert equipment or cause any issue in the pipes. So you could have a plant that pumps excess power into the gas grid in the form of hydrogen whenever needed. Or it could be pumped into storage tanks for CCGT tanks to use at a higher mix once they are needed again.

Condi

11,513 posts

135 months

Saturday 6th March
quotequote all
Gary C said:
Good summary

But its worth pointing out that the £45 price is as valued in 2012 so the actual price in 2021 is quite a bit higher.
The £45 was round 3 CFD from memory which was 2019 (?), but you're right they are inflation linked. The round 1 CFD which was about £195-200 was as priced in 2012 and so is now comfortably above £220/240. They'll look expensive by the end of theur subsidy payments, but at that point all the infrastructure is paid for and you can keep generating cheap/free wind power with the capital all paid off. 95% of income will be profit.

dvs_dave

6,289 posts

189 months

Saturday 6th March
quotequote all
Jambo85 said:
CraigyMc said:
We could just boil the ocean. Call it a national heated pool.

(could it be used to synthetically create gasoline?)
Close - hydrogen smile
Nope. Pumped hydro schemes in Norway. That’s what the UK-Norway North Sea Link subsea interconnector is being laid for.

Edited by dvs_dave on Saturday 6th March 09:22