The power generation mix of the UK will see a dramatic shift from 2024 as output from its nuclear power plants is expected to decrease sooner than anticipated. What are the alternatives?
What is Happening?
- This week, Electricité de France SA failed to secure agreements for half its fleet of nuclear plants in a government-led auction to keep capacity available in 2024-2025. Some of the units are expected to close by 2024, but others’ future looks uncertain. Future capacity has been crowded out by cables that import power from Europe.
- This is a problem, because the UK will likely need nuclear power as a low-carbon energy source to help it meet its goal to reach zero emissions by 2050, especially as demand for power is expected to double by then. Additionally, the large number of offshore wind programmes that the UK is planning to roll out this decade will need a reliable backup for when there is power intermittency, as nuclear generation is designed to run 24/7.
- According to BloombergNEF data, nuclear capacity that’s guaranteed by a contract is set to decline 75% by 2024. On social media, Thomas Edwards, a modeling consultant at Cornwall Insight said, “I am not confident that the security of supply situation is secure enough we can do without them.”
- EDF is building a new nuclear station called Hinkley Point C but that won’t be operational until 2026. A 1.4 GW power link to Denmark that is under construction was successful in the auction, as well as a new cable to France.
- One unit at both Torness and Heysham-2 didn’t win contracts in the latest auction. Dungeness B22 wasn’t entered into the auction because it hasn’t generated power for two years and the rules prevent it from participating.
- Thankfully, no coal plants won contracts, while two large-scale gas plants SSE Plc’s Keadby and Medway were unsuccessful, according to the data.
- The UK has planned large expansions for alternatives forms of energy generation, including hydrogen, and it plans to build its first homes powered by the gas in April this year.
You might also like: Saudi Arabia Looks to Enter the Green Hydrogen Market With USD$5Bn Plant
Details of Aging Nuclear Plants in Britain With Scheduled Date of Closure
- Hunterston B- December 2021
- Hinkley Point B- July 2022
- Heysham 1- First Quarter 2024
- Hartlepool- First Quarter 2024
- Dungeness B- 2028
- Heysham 2- 2030
- Torness- 2030
- Sizewell B- 2030
Featured image by: Flickr