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The climate alarmists and RE rent-seekers pushing net-zero carbon dioxide emissions targets hate nuclear power because it’s the only way of satisfying any such target.

And at the heart of that proposition, is the fact that the true cost of wind and solar are truly out of this world.

As a partial concession to their hopeless intermittency, wind and solar proponents talk about the need to add a little “firming” capacity to the grid for when the sun sets and/or calm weather sets in.

To the uninitiated, seeking out “firming” capacity might sound like chasing cheap Viagra from a Chinese website.

In the realm of the so-called “inevitable” transition to an all wind and sun powered future, “firming” capacity may not be fake, but it certainly ain’t cheap.

Thanks to its self-inflicted and suicidal renewable energy policies, the future of Australia’s power pricing and supply situation is diabolical.

The expansion and extension of mandated subsidies to wind and solar has the operators of coal-fired power plants on the ropes, as it was designed to do.

Plans to shut down another couple of very large coal-fired plants have energy wonks fretting about the next high-demand day, that coincides with sunset during calm weather. A point when the grid will face an inevitable total collapse; load shedding (aka demand management, aka Cuban style power rationing) is a routine feature of those occasions, even now.

The threat posed, has drawn focus on the cost of continuing down the path of chaotically intermittent wind and solar backed up with either mythical mega-batteries or pumped hydro. The costs of which, as appears below, are astronomical.

What the numbers reveal, however, is that switching to nuclear power is the most cost-effective method of delivering electricity and doing so without generating any carbon dioxide gas in the process.

For those concerned about the latter part of the equation, nuclear is the only method of ever meeting net-zero targets (whatever their merits may be).

Rafe Champion runs the numbers below.

The real cost of firming intermittent power in the grid
Jo Nova Blog
Rafe Champion
18 April 2022

The real cost of backing up the intermittent provision of wind and solar power has been spelled out in a comprehensive model that has achieved virtually no coverage in the public discussion of energy issues. This is a scandalous situation that reflects the ignorance and virtually criminal negligence of the journalists and commentators of the nation. This is a short version of the report.

According to all the people who are supposed to know about these things the road to net zero is clear and the days of the coal power are numbered because wind and solar power are so much cheaper. How much cheaper? Well the inputs of wind and sunbeams come free of charge, so how much cheaper can you get!

The CSIRO GenCost study is regarded as the last word on the matter and who can challenge the authority of the CSIRO? It is disappointing to find that the study is full of holes and dubious assumptions. The biggest hole of all is the failure to account for the full cost of firming the intermittent inputs. This is currently provided by the much maligned coalers and it comes free of charge to the wind and solar industries. See here for the frog and centipede relationship between conventional power and the predatory parasites of the RE industry.

In November 2020 a group of consultants tabled a report in the NSW Parliament with the results of some elaborate modelling work to generate the total System Levelised Cost of Energy (SLCOE) which is defined as — “…the average cost of producing electric energy from the combination of generation technologies chosen for the system over its entire lifetime”

The models include additional transmission costs for various options including replacing brown coal with nuclear energy, replacing coal with gas and 100% RE with hydro and storage.

Summary of Results

The best policy option to control costs and minimise emissions would appear to be to replace coal generation with nuclear power.

Case 1. This is the current situation, with over 70% of power generated by coal the estimated cost is $68.87/MWh.

Case 2 shows the effect of introducing 3,000 MW of nuclear power capacity into the Case 1 mix to replace brown coal. This raises the cost to $72.48/MWh while reducing emissions by around 23%.

Case 3 shows the effect of replacing all coal in Case 1 with nuclear power. Emissions fall by some 93%, with the cost increasing to $90.23/MWh.

Case 4 shows the effect of the combination of generation technologies projected by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) to 2040, as shown in its Integrated System Plan (ISP) of July 2018. The cost is in the order of $250/MWh.

Case 5 shows the effect of replacing all coal in Case 1 with CCGT. This shows an increase in cost to approach $100/MWh.

Case 6 shows a 100% renewable mix comprising solar PV, wind and hydro with support from pumped storage and some battery storage. Because of low capacity factors, solar PV and wind require a combined total of 110,000 MW of capacity. There is also a need for 30,000 MW of pumped storage capacity for 3 days. To this must be added high-cost additional transmission to get the power to points of high consumption where it is needed, making a total SLCOE of $415.50 I MWh.

Supporting information. All key technology performance data, costs, and other relevant information are listed at the Power System Generation Mix Model website.

A short report in PDF form.

Supplementary Information and Comments from the Authors

1. Wind-up subsidies for intermittent power generation
2. Add a capacity market component to the National Electricity Market
The current NEM is an energy-only market, which does not give clear signals when more or replacement dispatchable generation investment is needed. This weakness has been a key factor in the current absence of new dispatchable investment, i.e. power which can be delivered at the time it is needed by customers.

3. Remove the ban on nuclear power
This ban is the result of a political deal done 20 years ago. It has no scientific merit and is now an obstacle to much-needed decisions for the longer-term future. It prohibits by law the development of emissions-free, reliable, affordable nuclear power for Australia. The removal of the ban would allow more competition between various technologies to supply our future electricity needs.
Jo Nova Blog

Cost competitive nuclear only way to meet net-zero targets.


May 11, 2022, by stopthesethings