By 2050, the CCC’s Sixth Carbon Budget calls for 80% of UK electricity from INTERMITTENT WASPPs.
Turning the useless electricity from IMPORTED wind and solar power plants (WASPPs) into despatchable (24/7/365) electricity will cost £31.15 billion each and every year, FOREVER!!!!!
Conversely, the 635 TWh/year of despatchable electricity from UK-MANUFACTURED, advanced Nuclear Power Plants (NPPs) will cost just £8.11 billion per year.
The message from powerful WASPP lobbyists like renewableUK and National Grid, with daily support from the media, convince most politicians and the general public alike that WASPPs are the cheapest way to generate electricity.
It’s obfuscation and deceit in pure forms, and truth must prevail.
Politicians will realise how enormous subsidies are the only way pseudo [or hoodwinked] green fund/bank managers can profit.
Decarbonising the electricity sector means only low-carbon electricity and green hydrogen (greenH2), manufactured from low-carbon electricity, can get the UK to net-zero. Where electricity cannot be used directly or through batteries, greenH2 will decarbonise the rest: the heating, transport and industrial sectors.
But first, electricity generation has to be decarbonised. In 2019, figures from the BEIS show, from a total 323.7 TWh of generation, Coal and Gas generated 133.4 TWh.
Coal and natural gas (NG) have to go! Biomass for the environmental abomination that it is, should go also! And, maybe by 2100, in a UK powered solely by low-carbon electricity and greenH2, there will be no need either for environmentally-impacting, conventional and pumped hydroelectricity.
The Intermittency Problem carves away at the low carbon credentials of WASPPs because, as detractors point out, NG power plants are needed for when the Sun don’t shine and the wind don’t blow. But at present, proponents invariably counter this with — NG power plants are there anyway, to make up the capacity of electricity generation needed.
But there’s no doubting, when it’s night time and wind generation collapses, gas take the strain, generating at one point, 38X more despatchable electricity than wind and solar combined. Note also: As can be seen, ‘shuttered’ coal power plants had to be brought back on line to cope.
Of necessity to meet net-zero, NG will have to disappears. The lunacy of believing improvements in battery technologies can ever replace CCGT backup of WASPPs, needs to end now!
And similarly, the impracticality of site location and environmental impact of pumped-hydro storage rules that out too:
Unarguably, only CCGTs can provide backup power plants for WASPPs and they will have to be greenH2-powered. That greenH2 has to be manufactured by WASPPs when generation exceeds demand and stored in humongous volumes in salt caverns to cover diurnal and seasonal demand variations. When demand exceeds WASPP generation, greenH2-powered backup plants ‘kick-in’. By 2050, the cost of that greenH2 fuel is predicted to be down to the cost of today’s grey-hydrogen.
This ‘process’ is known as power-to-gas-to-power (P2G2P) cycle and it carries a burden of extremely low efficiency: “…Ten megawatt-hours of generated power in the beginning makes about three megawatt-hours of usable power by the time it is reconverted back to electricity for consumption…”. The installed capacity of WASPPs has to be so much greater to make up for that ‘missing’ 70%.
So the stage is set to put some cost figures on the capital investment needed to decarbonise electricity generation by 2050 using WASPPs+ greenH2. And not forgetting to add the cost of the greenH2 fuel
In December 2050, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) published:
The Sixth Carbon Budget: The UK’s Path to Net Zero.
Page 60 introduces: The Balanced Pathway to Net Zero for the UK. Page 67 states by 2050, electricity demand may see a doubling or even trebling of the 323.7 TWh present day figure. And, The installed capacity of offshore wind will rise to between 65 GW and 125 GW. Page 68 settles at the average figure:
Offshore Wind by 2050: 95 GW.
Right now, Seagreen offshore wind farm is in the throws of construction. Its 1.075 GW of installed capacity utilises 10MW wind turbine generators (WTGs). To meet the 95 GW target, 88 Seagreen-sized offshore windfarms would have to be installed at the rate of 3 per year. With an overnight capital cost (OCC) of £3.0 billion each, the total OCC is £264 billion which, spread over the 25 years lifespan of WTGs, equates to:
£10.56 billion per year.
Page 134 introduces Part 4: Electricity generation.
Page 135 gets right to the point with Solar generation. Installing 3 GW per year for the 30 years to 2050, totals 90 GW of installed solar capacity. It states this will be capable of generating 85 TWh per year in 2050 and this works back to a capacity factor (CF) of ~11%, which is the typical, low performance figure for solar in temperate zones.
Cleve Hill Solar Park, with 0.35 GW of installed capacity, is due to start construction right now. 90 GW of installed capacity would require 257 Cleve Hill-sized solar parks, with an OCC of £115.65 billion. With the hoped-for economic lifespan of utility scale solar at 30 years, that equates to:
£3.85 billion per year.
Digging out the installed capacity of onshore wind requires a few simple calculations and estimations. Under the Balanced Pathway (Page 134) variable renewables reach……….80% by 2050. Page 136: Figure 3.4c — 2050: Total generation scales at ~790 TWh, taking the 80% variable renewables [WASPP’s] figure to ~635 TWh.
Page 135 states unambiguously that the 95 GW, average figure for offshore wind: “…is the backbone of the system, providing 265 TWh of generation in 2035 and 430 TWh in 2050…”
635 TWh, less 85 TWh for solar and less 430 TWh for offshore wind:
Leaves 120 TWh for onshore wind. To establish the installed capacity, an estimation of the CF for onshore wind is necessary and this can be reasonably estimated from the capacity factor the report uses for offshore wind.
Currently, renewableUK has offshore wind’s CF at ~39% and onshore wind at ~27%. 95 GW of offshore wind generates 430 TWh, giving a capacity factor of ~52% (current value +35%) So adding 35% to the current onshore wind CF, gives a 2050 CF of ~37%.
Applying a 37% CF to generate 120 TWh gives an installed onshore wind capacity of 37 GW.
Onshore Wind is, by far, the most cost-effective of WASPP technologies. The latest onshore wind farm, currently under construction is South Kyle Wind Farm:
37 GW of installed capacity would require the installed capacity of 154 South Kyle-sized onshore wind farms, with an OCC of £49.28 billion. With the hoped-for lifespan of WTGs at 25 years, that equates to £1.97 billion per year.
To generate 635 TWh per year of low-carbon, intermittent electricity from WASPP technologies requires a capital investment of £16.38 billion per year.
But, intermittent electricity is useless to advanced, industrialised nations, and only marginally useful to less fortunate nations and regions. This is where the P2G2P infrastructure becomes an inseparable cost-extra to every unit of intermittent electricity generated by WASPPs - as does the cost of greenH2 fuel.
To guarantee the lights stay on, the installed capacity of gas turbine plant needs to be 70% greater than the average electrical power supplied over a year. 72.5 GW is the average power needed to generate 635 TWh per year. The installed capacity of gas turbines, with a capacity factor of 60%, would need to be 121 GW but, to meet peak demand, that figure needs to be increased by 70% to a minimum installed capacity of 206 GW.
NG-powered Pembroke Power Station, with a capital cost of £800 million has 2 GW of installed capacity. 103 such power stations, with lifespans of averaging 25 years, would be needed, requiring a capital investment of £20.6 billion. That’s £3.30 billion per year.
But the ‘day-job’ for these Combined Cycle Gas Turbines (CCGTs) is to load-follow the peaks and troughs of spiky generation from WASPPs. Their level of load-following generation involves approximately 20% of total annual generation:
20% of 635 TWh of annual generation is 127 TWh which, when ‘below the line’ needs the P2G2P backup to be 24/7 despatchable electricity. The 127 TWh ‘above the line’ will only supply some of this because:
“…Ten megawatt-hours of generated power in the beginning makes about three megawatt-hours of usable power by the time it is reconverted back to electricity for consumption…”
So, 127 TWh ‘in’ becomes a supply of only 38 TWh ‘out’ and the ‘missing’ 89 TWh has to be supplied from an overbuild of WASPPs. 89 TWh coming out of the P2G2P cycle requires 297 TWh of input. Generating an extra 297 TWh requires a WASPP overbuild of +46.77% on top of the ‘base-line’ installed capacities. Since 635 TWh per year from WASPPs costs £16.38 billion per year; pro rata, the extra 297 TWh would require an extra £7.66 billion per year.
Instead of the complexity of estimating the cost of the additional P2G2P infrastructure, it is reasonably valid [although sure to be on the low side] to consider paying for the cost of the greenH2 fuel needed to eliminate the intermittency problem of WASPP generation.
The cost of fuel to power the gas turbine backup and generate 127 TWh of ‘useable [electricity] power’ hinges around the energy content of greenH2.
1kg of hydrogen contains 33.33 kWh. The quantity of GH2 to generate 102 TWh per year, is 3,810,400,000 kg/year.
“…with the IEA putting the current price of grey H2 production at $1.00–$1.80/kg…”: Taking a ‘long view’ of average exchange rates, simplistically, it is about £1.00/kg. A fuel cost figure for WASPPs of £3.81 billion per year.
The final total of capital investment required, plus fuel cost, for a100% WASPP fully decarbonised, 24/7/365, despatchable electricity supply is:
£31.15 billion per year.
Starting the ‘whole system’ build in 2021, it is clear that by 2050, because of the 20 to 30 years lifespan of the technologies involved, the first-builds will be at end-of-life. Decommissioning of plants and build of replacement plants will start before 2050 and will be ongoing thereafter. That’s £31.15 billion per year, FOREVER!
Across 635 TWh of annual generation, that annual cost figure equates to £49.06/MWh. But the long-term Wholesale Electricity price is around £50.00/MWh. So where will the subsidies come from to provide those eager investors with a profit???
Down at the money-source level, £31.15 billion spread across the 27.8 million UK households will, one way or another, ‘insinuate’ £1,120 each year into the energy bills or taxes of every UK household.
Is that very much? Well, for those already struggling to pay energy bills:
“…Ofgem announced the cap will rise to pre-pandemic levels, increasing by £96 to £1,138 for 11million default tariff customers……….Bills will also increase by £87 to £1,156 for 4million pre-payment meter customers…”
So, yes! It’s just about A DOUBLING OF ENERGY BILLS!
Of course, nuclear power plants (NPPs) generate low carbon electricity without the need for NG backup plants. But the daily media mantra informs everyone that nuclear is far too expensive and takes too long to build.
So, brain-overloaded politicians along with 99.95% of the general public (those who are totally disinterested/uninterested/indifferent to sources of energy) digest the media headlines as the ‘gospel truth’.
All the while, burgeoning developments in advanced NPPs, like Rolls-Royce’s 470 MW Small Modular Reactor (SMR), are off-the-radar, or being wilfully ignored, by opponents of nuclear power with their varying agendas.
The Rolls-Royce UK SMR has a 4 years build programme and, financed by commercial investment, the first one will be operational in 2030. By the 5th one, the overnight capital cost (OCC) will be £1.8 billion. Compared to ‘Big Nuclear’, this equates to £12.3 billion for the 3,200 MW of Hinkley Point C (HPC). That is some 45% lower than HPC’s current £22.5 billion estimate.
So what capital investment is required and what is the fuel cost for generating 635 TWh each year of low-carbon, 24/7/365, despatchable electricity from a Rolls-Royce UK SMR infrastructure?
635 TWh per year would be generated by 172 R-R SMRs which, with a capital investment of £1.8 billion each, would require a total capital investment of £309.6 billion. Spread over the 60 years design life, that equates to £5.16 billion per year.
In respect of the fuel cost per unit of electricity generated, little variation is likely to be experienced between ‘Big Nuclear’ power plants and SMRs. Figures of $6.50/MWh for Singe-Units and $6.06/MWh for Multi-Units results in an average cost of £4.65/MWh. Calculating for 635 TWh of generation per year, the total cost is £2.95 billion per year.
The final total of capital investment required, plus fuel cost, for a 100% UK SMR fully decarbonised, 24/7/365, despatchable electricity supply is £8.11 billion per year.
Starting in 2030, installing at a rate of 8 or 9 units each year, by 2050 all 172 NPPs would be operational at a cost, including fuel, of £18.43 billion per year.
The PERPETUAL £34.40 billion/year WASPP figure is 87% higher than the UK SMR figure, which only applies for 20years.
But then there would be a 40 years investment hiatus before further investment is needed; hence £8.11 billion per year equivalence.
Across 635 TWh of annual generation, that annual cost figure equates to £12.77/MWh. With the long-term Wholesale Electricity price around £50.00/MWh, earnings and therefore profits would definitely be substantial.
Down at the money-source level, £8.11 billion spread across the 27.8 million UK households will, one way or another, ‘insinuate’ £292 each year into the energy bills or taxes of every household — This is below 1/4 of the £1,237 figure for the WASPP alternative. And that would mean way, way lower energy bills or taxes than the otherwise subsidy-loaded bills or taxes we would have to bear, if the CCC’s recommendations are implemented.
Write to your MP to let them have a look at these figures and consider this:
Thought for the Day: All of those green jobs, so beloved by the purveyors of ‘Green New Deals’, contribute substantially to the high capital costs of all of the WASPP technologies.
But electricity is the Master Resource! Without electricity, our lives fall apart; the everyday essentials disappear: We don’t get potable water; we don’t get the quantity or variety of foods; we don’t get sewage treatment; we don’t get heat or refrigeration; we don’t get our lifestyle choices.
The more we pay for the electricity to run our washing machines, freezers and TVs, the more our way of life is degraded. We have less in our pockets to pay for goods and services of our choice. Lower electricity bills means that money saved goes in job creation in the provision of goods and services making up our lifestyle choices— long term jobs for the many, instead of ephemeral green jobs. Green jobs destroy real jobs!
But worst of all, high electricity bills kill (04 October 2019):
“…Watchdog Ofgem announces 16,500 winter deaths were linked to cold homes…”
So, since “…In 2019 the average combined gas and electricity bill for UK households reached an eye-watering £1,289 a year…” could it mean that the CCC’s recommendations, if taken up by Government, might result in:
Winter Deaths — over the 30,000 mark?
Utmost shame on every Parliamentarian on whose watch such tragedy should happen!