Electricity Market of the UK: Nuclear Power and Alternatives

Date:  2021-03-30 02:21:15
5 pages  (1128 words)
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Vanderbilt University
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In the United Kingdom, electricity is generated in different ways. In order to have a constant supply and reduce overly reliant on one type of power generation, it is imperative to have different sources of fuel and new technologies to generate power. Nuclear power in the UK generates around one-sixth of the countrys electricity in 2012. The United Kingdom has 15 nuclear reactors. These include 14 advanced gas-cooled reactors and one pressurized water reactor. There is also a nuclear reprocessing plant located at Sellafield. Around 21% of United Kingdoms electricity comes from the nuclear reactors. A process known as fission is used to split uranium atoms and eventually producing power. The nuclear power stations in the United Kingdom are expected to close over the next few decades or so gradually. Several companies have plans to build new reactors, with the first expected to be running by 2018.

The UK established the first civil nuclear program in the world at Calder Hall nuclear power station, at Windscale, in 1956. In 1997, the station was at the peak and around 26% of the United Kingdoms electricity came from the nuclear energy. Since then, some reactors have closed.

In October 2010, British Government allowed private suppliers to build up 8 new nuclear power stations. In March 2012, RWE power and E.ON UK announced that they would no longer develop new nuclear power stations. Despite this, the EDF Energy has plans to build another four new Nuclear reactors. At Hinkley Point in Somerset, public consultation has already been completed. Consequently, the initial groundwork of the two reactors at Horizon Nuclear Power plant is underway. There are also plans for around six new reactors at Oldbury and Wylfa sites. On the other hand, there are also nuclear reactors at Moorside Nuclear Plant. Subsequently, an agreement for the Chinese designed reactors Bradwell nuclear power plant has been made.

The United Kingdom could face another winter without enough power supply. Electricity supplies were the tight last winter, and this winter the same situation is expected, or even worse. Last year alone saw the closure of, 11 coal- and gas-powered plants and only two new gas plants to replace them. Incase electricity demand for this winter matches the demand for last winter; then there will be around eighty-five hours where grid will have less than 2 gig watts of the spare capacity. There may also be 12 hours where demand may exceed the capacity. When that happens, the National Grid will be forced to take last-resort measures. Many planned nuclear power plants are in bureaucratic limbo. A good example is Hinkley Point C, which had its final decision delayed at some point. The two proposed European pressurized reactors at Hinkley are expected to produce about 3,200MW or 7 percent of the UK's needed power. Throw in Sizewell C is also expected to generate a further 3,200MW, and this would guarantee the UK a lot of electricity generation. If EDF allows, construction on Hinkley Point C, then Sizewell C would be expected to kick over sooner after. Britain plans to outsource 53.8GW of electricity to avoid the shortage of energy during the 2017-18 energy shortage at an estimated cost of between 2bn to 3bn. Capacity auctions will allow the United Kingdom government to pay the owners of power plan to keep backup electricity at bay at short notice incase demand exceeds the supply.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change plans to seek to reserve of 52GW for the 2020-21 winter. The United Kingdom may face the prospect of electricity shortages over the next few winters due to the closures of aging power plants.

As uncertainty over the current proposals for the imported reactor technologies continues, it is important to review the alternatives seriously. The Britains nuclear scientists are expected to developing new reactor technologies, no matter the costs involved. The Britains proposed new nuclear reactors project is a mess and needs to be tidied up soon. Still, there is still no decision on whether Hinkley Point C, will be built, even if people assumes that it will be built. Alongside the delays and uncertainty over Hinkley C, there are also concerns about the reactor design. The Areva EPR has never been used anywhere and the flagship projects, in Normandy Flamanville and Olkiluoto, Finland, are far behind the schedule and over budget. Understandably, people, even within the industry, still have doubts about the decision of hitching the UK to that particular wobbly wagon. The United Kingdom should ensure a secure electricity supply by making sure there is a diverse range of energy sources, including nuclear, CCS-equipped plant, demand-side approaches, renewables, unabated gas and ensuring there are sufficient reliable capacity to vinimize the risk of supply shortages.

The role of the Government in the electricity market should be reduced over time, and transition market which allows low-carbon technologies should be adopted. This tactic will help in driving down the costs and allow the country to meet their goals in a cost-effective way. EMR is designed to ensure the security of supply in the short, medium and longer term.

Alternatives to nuclear power includes; Solar power, which is inexhaustible and abundant and certainly the best known of the alternative energy sources. This energy is tapped through the use of solar panels, which convert the sunlight to electricity. The other source is Natural gas, which is collected from fossil. Natural gas emits less harmful pollutants into the air when burned. Consequently, hydrogen can be used to provide transport. Hydrogen can be produced domestically and it is efficient than the gasoline powered engines. The nuclear cycle can also use Thorium as an alternative to uranium fuel in the nuclear cycle. Many scientists have been advocating for the use of thorium, and they claim it has many advantages as compared to the uranium fuel cycle commonly used around the world.

Company Name Station Name Fuel Installed Capacity (MW) Year of commission or year generation began Location: Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland or English region

British Energy Dungeness B Nuclear 1,050.0 1983 South East

British Energy HartlepoolNuclear 1,180.0 1984 North East

British Energy Heysham 1 Nuclear 1,155.0 1984 North West

British Energy Heysham 2 Nuclear 1,230.0 1988 North West

British Energy Hinkley Point B Nuclear 955.0 1976 South West

British Energy Hunterston B Nuclear 965.0 1976 Scotland

British Energy Sizewell B Nuclear 1,198.0 1995 East

British Energy TornessNuclear 1,185.0 1988 Scotland

Websites

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/48128/2167-uk-renewable-energy-roadmap.pdf.

https://www.theengineer.co.uk/the-alternatives-for-uk-nuclear/http://arstechnica.co.uk/business/2016/06/uk-could-face-power-shortages-this-winter/http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/country-profiles/countries-t-z/united-kingdom.aspxhttps://www.ft.com/content/2c1f71c6-2ef7-11e6-bf8d-26294ad519fchttp://www.the-eic.com/News/NewsStory/UK-plans-for-power-shortages-over-winter-of-2017-18.aspx?ArticleID=3415&tabid=766http://www.the-eic.com/News/NewsStory/UK-plans-for-power-shortages-over-winter-of-2017-18.aspx?ArticleID=3415&tabid=766https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/65634/7090-electricity-market-reform-policy-overview-.pdfhttps://www.ft.com/content/2c1f71c6-2ef7-11e6-bf8d-26294ad519fchttps://www.carbonbrief.org/how-national-grid-keeps-the-lights-on-when-a-large-power-station-catches-fire

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