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Red Herring of base loads Nuclear Power

During inevitable low wind periods, the National Grid would do what it did this Christmas when half the nuclear power stations in this country were out of action - they would simply start up existing coal or gas stations (already built and paid for or their replacements), which are held in readiness for this very purpose to back up nuclear.

Other techniques, all used already to a greater or lesser extent in this country and around the world, routinely deal with the sudden loss of power stations, or with TV programme load surges. The lights do not go out. Standard every day methods include automatic shedding of non urgent loads, energy storage, use of tariffs and smart meters to influence consumer consumption patterns, inter-country connection of power grids, and surprisingly little known perhaps, in France, USA and UK the calling up of vast numbers of small diesel generators, already owned for private local emergency use and these can be readily extended to deal with the increased uncertainty due to a large amount of wind generation.

In fact the largest potential cause of sudden power loss in Great Britain is Sizewell B nuclear power station, and it is the size of that station, 1.3 GW, that sets the fast reserve generation margin. Nuclear simply is not base load - these nuclear power stations must stop both in an emergency and for regularly planned reasons and therefore themselves need back up.

In the theoretical but possible case that fossil fuel fired reserve supply and other energy management techniques were used to back up an otherwise close to 100% wind power regime, carbon and other emissions would be cut to a fraction of present levels, whereas the new nuclear build can bring a mere 18% reduction from the generation sector and 4% of all UK emissions.

A recent Irish study (2008 All Island Grid Study. Study Overview, Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources. Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment) has shown that close to 50% wind energy is possible.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Jan 19th, 2008 at 06:07:46 PM EST

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