More wind farms, or more reliable sources of renewables.

With the talk of easing planning for on-shore wind farms, and with “Greens” pushing for less reliance on fossil fuels or nuclear, even more emphasis is being placed on wind as a major source of energy.  A look at Gridwatch shows that there has been only minor contribution of wind to the UK Grid Demand since August 23rd.  Fortunately, at the moment demand is fairly low and solar has made a contribution during the day but that is not always the case.  Is it not time that much more investment is made into more reliable sources of renewables, we seem to be working ourselves into a corner?

  • So building a big battery bank near the substation where the wind turbines connect to the grid would work fine.

    With battery stations connected to the grid the viability of wind power is greatlty enhanced.  I assume this would also apply to solar PV.

    Hopefully we will start to see these appearing across the UK very soon.  With some careful planning this could also help with bottlenecked 400kv HV lines like from Scotland to England

  • Already happening, eg:-

    https://www.energy-storage.news/800mwh-of-utility-scale-energy-storage-capacity-added-in-the-uk-during-2022/

    https://www.edf-re.uk/what-we-do/battery-storage/

  • Thank you Roger for the links

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  • Isn't nuclear for base load only though as the output cannot be varied to meet peak demand (as compared to gas, for example), so would still need storage which can produce variable output?

  • That was certainly true for earlier generation reactors, hence pumped storage systems like Dinorwig. Newer reactor physics allows reasonable load following, but probably not quick enough if there is too much wind and solar PV on the grid.

  • Hello Sam. Nuclear power plants are indeed well-suited for providing base load power. As discussed the output of nuclear power plants is generally not easy to adjust to meet the peak demand because of the time it takes to ramp up or down the reactors. In comparison  gas power plants can be more flexible in adjusting their output to match fluctuations in demand.
    To address this issue I would think additional energy storage systems could be employed to help manage the variable output of other energy sources ? However, would integrating energy storage technologies with nuclear power plants enhance the overall flexibility and reliability of the electricity grid? 

  • This is a brief note on load following of npps. As the author notes they can have similar charecteristics to coal fired plants, but for fast response you need gas turbines.

    A Brief Survey of Load-Following Capabilities in Modern Nuclear Power Plants (stanford.edu)

  • Yes, Roger is correct nuclear is best as base load.

    Grid watch have only once I believe managed to get wind to supply the full load but even then they were importing some energy from Europe.  

    Grid watch should be able to estimate the economic limit of nuclear we should be investing in.

    https://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/