The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) was launched by then-chancellor George Osborne in October 2015 to “think dispassionately and independently about Britain’s long-term infrastructure needs in areas like transport, energy, communication, flood defence and the like.” Well, the NIC has now thought dispassionately and independently about energy and has concluded that the UK can meet its 2050 decarbonization goals with either a mostly nuclear or mostly renewable generation mix, but that “wind and solar could deliver the same generating capacity as nuclear for the same price, and would be a better choice because there was less risk”. Here we take a brief look at this renewables-beats-nuclear option to see whether it might work.
The NIC study was brought to my attention in a comment by correspondent Ed T in Blowout Week 236, so a hat tip to Ed T. The data available to me consisted of the NIC report, NIC’s Power Point presentation, the source of most of the data I use, and a summary article from the Guardian. The power sector modeling work was performed by Aurora Energy Research (Aurora).
The NIC “aims to be the UK’s most credible, forward-thinking and influential voice on infrastructure policy and strategy, producing reports and analysis of the highest quality, written in plain English, independent of government and all vested interests, and making clear recommendations based on rigorous evidence; and developing an evidence base which sets a gold standard in its quality and breadth.” Its conclusions are summarized in the Guardian article:
Government advisers have told ministers to back only a single new nuclear power station after Hinkley Point C in the next few years, because renewable energy sources could prove a safer investment. Sir John Armitt, the NIC’s chairman, said: He argued that wind and solar could deliver the same generating capacity as nuclear for the same price, and would be a better choice because there was less risk.
…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…