Monthly Archives: December 2010

Nuclear Power: Uneconomic, risky and unnecessary

Both the last Labour Government and our current Tory-led coalition seem to be in favour of building new nuclear power stations; much of the UK media, public opinion and even some environmentalists such as Mark Lynas and James Lovelock have come out in favour. I remain firmly against.
The current government thinks that nuclear power stations will be built by private companies without massive state subsidies, and yet so far no nuclear power station anywhere in the world has ever been built based on market criteria, and it is highly unlikely to be the case for the foreseeable future. Usually it is states trying to prove their prowess as “modern” and wanting the fissile material for bombs. Nuclear power is rapidly becoming obsolete rather than modern.
Last week Amory Lovins presented the case against nuclear and for efficiency and renewables to Chris Huhne and DECC (Department for Energy & Climate Change). See Jonathon Porritt’s blog As the graph above shows micropower (renewables, excluding big hydro) is on the up, increasing from 13% to 18% of global electricity production over the last decade, while nuclear has decreased from 17% to 13% over the same period. Over the coming decade renewables look set to grow considerably more rapidly: Photovoltaics in USA are on course to grow by 156% in 2010, China has achieved over 100% year on year growth in wind power for several years and the deployment of CSP (Concentrating Solar Power) in Andalusia, Spain, over the past couple of years has been inspirational. The market certainly seems to prefer renewables to nuclear. Amory Lovins made the case in 2008: The case for renewables has grown stronger since then.
Meeting humanities power needs with 100% renewables looks to me increasingly achievable, economic and beneficial. We’ll do electricity first; then heating and transport. With greater government support and increased community ownership the possibilities are tremendous! Nuclear power remains unnecessary, risky and uneconomic.

Solar District Heating in Denmark

Last week I wrote about large solar thermal roofs, often over 100m2 ( square meters ), and occasionally over 1,000m2 designed by innovative companies such as SOLID solar. Today I want to write about the same technology, but where they are ground mounted instead of roof mounted, and where the collector area is currently up to 15,000m2 and soon projects of 35,000m2 will be built. If Austria is the world leader in the roof mounted category then Denmark is in the ground mounted category. The map of Denmark above shows currently operating plants and those planned, and the photo is of the system at Marstal, one of the first, and soon to be doubled in size.

As mentioned last week the larger the storage capacity and the better the insulation the more useful the system will be in terms of storing summer solar gain to meet maximum winter heating demand. Last week I noted that Gneis Moos had a thermal store of 100,000 litres, which is 100 cubic meters (m3). The 35,000m2 solar collector at Dronninglund will have a thermal store of 60,000m3, which to give one a sense of scale is 24 times the size of an Olympic swimming pool, or 600 times the size of that at Gneis Moos.
In the last few years these types of large scale solar district heating systems, increasingly integrated with other forms of renewable energy, are becoming more common in Denmark, and as the unit cost is falling and gas and other fossil fuel prices are rising, they will become increasingly common. There is a very interesting document on the Danish experience here (.pdf, 3.2Mb)
Who will build the first one in the UK?