UK Power Edges Towards Renewables - con't

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@Don asked a question … Any views on the idea of using the type of small reactors that RR (?) produce for submarines. Installing them closer to the power user and running small steam turbines to generate local electricity ?
Is this feasible. It is economic. Is it environmentally friendly ?

Rolls-Royce has published its plans to install and operate factory-built mini power stations (SMR) by 2029.
These will be mass manufactured & delivered in pre-assembled parts on the back of a lorry.
Environmentalists have mixed opinions (no surprise there then) but these plants will contribute to the net zero emissions by 2050 target.
RR & the SMR industry is confident that mini reactors can compete on price with low-cost renewables such as offshore wind.

Rolls-Royce is leading a consortium to build these SMR’s & install them in former nuclear sites. Ultimately, the company thinks it will build between 10 and 15 of the stations in the UK.
They are about 1.5 acres in size - sitting in a 10-acre space. That is a 16th of the size of a major power station such as Hinkley Point.

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Some info/graphic on the ‘Renewable’ energy problem the UK faces on an overcast windless day such as we have today.

The first picture ‘Today’ shows a high percentage of power from CCGT (combined cycle gas turbine) coloured brown
I’m not being negative or opening a discussion, but today is a perfect “bad day” & shows why we cannot avoid gas for a long long time to come.
The ‘Month’ average picture shows how the CCGT (brown) is replaced by Wind (light blue) on a windy days (last week)

Coal is something we only see in winter on days like today, coal is planned to be eliminated soon, the big coal station at Drax (its now is mostly Biomass) is converting its remaining coal generators to CCGT.

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Great graphs that demonstrate why we really, really need fast acting gas power, at least until some form of enormous and enormously cheap energy storage comes economically and environmentally viable.

Note that the gas contribution excludes the even greater volume of gas used to heat our homes and workplaces directly…

Indeed - Did I forget to mention fracking …

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I prefer to watch on Simon, its the same but more of & easier to read info

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cool - I am old fashioned - I like traditional looking dials :grinning:- but hopefully the same info :slight_smile:

Good Afternoon All,

We need considerable expansion in energy storage of one form or another and we need to get on with such as tidal lagoon options amongst other things.

The flip side of the coin is we need to rapidly accelerate reducing gas usage domestically.



Tidal Lagoon power is very anti nature (IMO) It causes artificial still water lagoons from what were full flow tide areas or even open sea (thinking Swansea bay) They disrupt all manner of natural marine life, they silt up & require a high degree of maintenance including continuous dredging (de-silting)
They are the marine eq of palm oil plantations

I have no issues with tidal race power generation as such, providing it does not effect the natural flow & migration of marine life

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Thank you for the mention in your opening post Mike.

Some of us old “fuddy duddies” are way ahead of the game …

There might well be “consequences” of SMRs, but there are consequences of every thing we do. I think this is a helpfull step in the right direction.

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We need clean power and have to choose least worst routes. Tidal lagoons would be very predictable sources of power.

We probably need to look at more hydro as well - waits for cries from people about flooding valleys or diverting water courses…

Prince Charles is installing a scheme on the River Muick on the edge of the Balmoral estate for instance.



100% NO - see my previous answer.
I don’t see why people believe its OK to destroy marine life, in marine terms tidal lagoons are the worst worse choice

There has been low enthusiasm even for tidal race generation, despite a lot of suitable sites, particularly around the Scottish west coast inlets & islands. One of the objections for all marine power generation is the high frequency need & resultant cost of maintenance.

I’ m OK with hydro, but UK is basically a flat country & with the exception of the suitable area’s of Wales, NW Eng & Scotland, the UK is not ideally suited & we can get more from other resources. I’m OK with generation from water reservoir schemes, but this is more or less a by product & in most cases the water head does not give much in output terms.


Most of the economic hydro schemes have already been exploited.

Ditto with the pumped-storage schemes

I abhore the visual intrusion in our landscape of wind farms. I personally would scrap the lot as soon as look at them.

We could cover the UK with solar panels but appart from letting the surrounding grass be used for sheep farming I think we might have to import more food. So, I think there is a limit to solar power.

With the drive towards more electric cars and electric trains (Great Western routes out of Paddington for example) we need to intsall significant additional power generation, despite a drive to use electriciy more efficiently.

Nulear power seems to me to be the only practical way forward at the moment.

It shouldn’t stop new ideas being tried out. But beware the unexpected consequeces. They sometimes bite back very hard indeed. (que diesel cars).

Talking of economic hydro, I’m semi-involved with the Archimedes Screw plants being installed on R.Thames weirs. The last one installed at Sandford (south of Oxford) a 3 screw affair cost £3.2m & provides enough power for ‘450’ homes. I don’t see that as exactly low cost.

We could do more with deep water (floating) wind. Further out to sea is further out of sight.

Solar is OK in UK summer, very marginal in winter with low sun levels & long darkness.

What discussion has there been in the UK regarding demand management? In simple terms getting those peaks on the right graph down with a flat line demand at around 30.0 GW.

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Hi @Mike_S. Its not so much how to flat-line the peaks & troughs, and it’ll take some system to do anything with a >20GW peak-to-peak variable. The biggest challenge is the ability to quickly control & regulate what we have. We now have pretty fast response time systems,
Wind can be turned up & down very quickly/instantly,
CCGT is a bit slower, maybe 20 to 40 mins to go on line from cold, so some at least need to be kept running on an idle state to do it faster.
Nuclear is considered a non-variable as it takes 24 hours to change plant outputs.
There is talk of battery cell back ups located at power stations, but 200MW per cell is not much in the grand scheme of things
We have a number of pumped storage generators that pump water to reservoirs overnight when its low demand & is used to instantly boost output over short periods (up to 6 hours in some cases)
We also have 5 import/export links with Ireland & mainland Europe that are practically instant on/off & have good demand side regulation.

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We can’t have our cake and eat it, we need to have as many diverse systems as possible. Every source has its drawbacks. Tidal lagoons can also assist in peak demand management.

Nuclear is hideously expensive from cradle to grave. Sizewell will be as unmitigated a disaster as the two other similar plants, the one in Finland is 10yrs overdue!!!

A combination of home battery storage and EV battery usage could both be beneficial if only the PTB would get their fingers out.



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Interesting thread. We have a wind turbine (shared with in laws) but no solar (yet) and I would love to get battery storage but a £7-8k Tesla power wall at 13 kWh capacity holds about £2 of electricity. So not much of an answer. Hope that gets cheaper but I think vehicle to grid should be able to help balance the grid enormously. My car is over 80 kWh capacity and if v2g was possible with it (it isn’t - only recent Nissan Leafs I think and early trials in progress for a short while only) then why not supply the grid from 5pm-8pm for peak every day and then charge for low cost after midnight. Charging and discharging at relatively low rates is apparently not harmful to the batteries

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…when many of us are driving home after a hrad day’s work ?

No. We need to have a sensible mix of practical, economic systems.

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