Fleet of new ‘pocket-size’ British nuclear reactors needed to provide renewable electricity for battery-powered vehicles by 2030

BPV-Britain: Governments in London and Edinburgh want to ban all petrol and diesel   cars.
BPV-Britain: Governments in London and Edinburgh want to ban all petrol and diesel cars.

Britain will need new fleet of ‘pocket-size’ nuclear power plants to generate all the extra electricity that will be need to keep the economy turning in the drive to battery-powered vehicles (BPVs) – especially as all but one of the existing fleet of ‘regular-size’ nuclear plants are due to shut down by 2030.

A London-based think-thank says nuclear power will be vital for achieving a fully decarbonised electricity grid and filling the gap caused by a surge in electricity demand from BPVs and the need to phase gas and coal off the power grid.

Matt Rooney, environment research fellow at the Policy Exchange, said: “There is no other low carbon energy which can match nuclear power for scale and reliability, as well as the potential to use it for other services like district heat and hydrogen production.

“The diffuse and intermittent nature of solar and wind means that we cannot rely on them for 100% of our energy needs – for example, January typically sees at least one week where virtually no electricity is produced by either wind or solar compared with what is needed.

“Buying in electricity through interconnectors from other Western European nations will be increasingly difficult as our neighbours also turn to wind and solar and so have less capacity to export – while the battery storage capability to back up renewables could cost up to £1 trillion.
“We need a reliable and affordable low carbon form of energy – small modular nuclear reactors have the potential to be that technology.”

Illustration of a 'pocket-sized' modular reactor
Illustration of a ‘pocket-sized’ modular reactor

The report also calls for the government to;

  • Scrap renewable-specific energy targets: When the UK leaves the EU it should abandon renewable energy targets and focus energy policy on the objectives of sustainable, low carbon and affordable energy.
  • Assess UK energy storage capacity: The Government should commission research into the potential for long term energy storage in the UK. As a first step this should evaluate the most feasible sites for pumped hydro, compressed air and heat storage to determine how much storage capacity is available.
  • Properly assess the future costs of renewable energy-intermittency: BEIS should commission a consultancy to design an economic model that fully assesses the value of the electricity produced by dispatchable and non-dispatchable sources of electricity. This could be an adaption of the Dynamic Dispatch Model, which was used to model scenarios for the Energy Market Reform process, and:
  • Create a carbon capture and storage hub: The UK Government should partner with industry to create an initial CCS hub close to a suitable geological storage site and focus initial deployment of carbon capture technologies on industrial uses and hydrogen production, not electricity.

26 Jan 2018

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