EDF to close Dungeness B nuclear power station
EDF's decision to move Dungeness B nuclear power station into the defuelling phase with immediate effect will increase reliance on gas to stabilise the grid and result in higher emissions and prices, the head of the Nuclear Industry Association has warned.
EDF cited a range of "unique, significant and ongoing technical challenges" for its decision and said the plant, which was built in 1967 and whose final electricity was generated in 2018, ran for 10 years longer than its original design life. It connected to the grid in 1983.
"Although many have been overcome, new detailed analysis has further highlighted additional station-specific risks within some key components, including parts within the fuel assemblies," EDF said in a statement.
John Benn, Station Director at Dungeness B said the station has been a cornerstone of life in Kent for decades. "It is a very special place and the team has a real sense of family – we are part of the community," he said. "EDF has had to make a hard decision – but it is the right one. It gives our teams, our community and our business a clear understanding of the future."
He added that the defuelling stage marks "the next chapter" and will take several years, which will provide ongoing opportunities for staff and require specialist skills.
Tom Greatrex, Chief Executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, said Dungeness B was the first of a nuclear fleet that has saved over 1.2 billion tonnes of carbon emissions, the equivalent of all UK emissions from 2018 through 2020, and far more than any other electricity source.
"Despite its difficulties, the plant has been of one of the ten most productive low-carbon assets in UK history. Only other nuclear power stations have done better. It’s a testament to the tireless ingenuity and dedication of the hundreds of site workers who have kept the plant operating for close to four decades," he said.
“Its retirement underscores the urgency of investing in new nuclear capacity to hit net zero: in less than three years, more than half of our nuclear fleet will be gone. If this base of firm power is not replaced, we will have to rely on gas to stabilise the grid.
"This fossil fuel dependence will cause higher emissions and higher prices and push our climate goals further from our grasp. Instead, we can choose to invest in nuclear power alongside renewables to secure a green recovery and a net zero future for the UK."
In its Energy White Paper, The UK Government aims to:
- invest in small modular and advanced modular reactors
- set aside £385 million for an Advanced Nuclear Fund
- bring at least one further large scale nuclear project to the point of FID by the end of this Parliament
Hinkley Point C, EDF's flagship project, will deliver around seven per cent of the country’s current electricity needs - enough to power the equivalent of around six million homes - but it won't come on stream until the mid-2020s.
The UK also aims to build a commercially viable fusion power plant by 2040. Fusion energy would offer low-carbon, continuous, and effectively unlimited power generation.
Electricity inaccessible to 870 million people
Up to 870 million people still lack access to electricity and another 1.5 billion suffer from unreliable services, according to David Lecoque, CEO, Alliance for Rural Electrification.
He was speaking at the Middle East Energy’s (MEE) Critical and Backup Power sector focus week, as the exhibition takes place virtually until June 9.
“Since our creation 15 years ago, tremendous strides have been made in accelerating access to electricity, enabling more than 1 billion people to gain electricity access over this period," said Lecoque, before highlighting the lack of people who are unconnected to grids.
“These numbers are exacerbated by the global population growth, which means that at current rates, the electrification will mean that around 620 million people will remain without access to clean and affordable electricity by 2030, of which 85% will be living in Sub Saharan Africa."
The IEA claims the number of people without access to electricity dropped from almost 860 million in 2018 to 770 million in 2019 - but it's still a figure which needs to be cut more, and the pandemic has exacerbated the challenge.
"The health crisis and economic downturn caused by Covid-19 is compounding the difficulties faced by governments as they look to alleviate energy poverty and expand access, pushing countries farther away from achieving universal access," it states.
In 2030, it predicts 50% of the global population without access will be concentrated in seven countries: Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Uganda, Pakistan, Tanzania, Niger and Sudan.
To meet on Sustainable Development goals, around $35 billion needs to be spent annually from 2021 to 2030 on generation and electricity networks through smart and efficient integrated delivery programmes, and making full use of decentralised solutions.
Lecoque also stressed the need for decentralised renewable energies (DRE). “DREs are poised to be the least-cost electrification option for more than half of all connections needed to provide sustainable electricity for all by 2030," he said.
"DREs do so in a way that is fast, cost-effective and clean. They provide rural and peri-urban communities with sustainability electricity services to power livelihoods, doing so in a way that catalyses socio-economic development and local green job creation, that is future-proof, and that is effectively addressing climate change.”
Rounding out sessions on day one were Reducing fuel consumption: hybrid gen-set and renewable energy technologies by Gorkum Soyumer, Head of New Business and Product Innovation, Siraj Power. While sessions on How technology is revolutionising the energy industry, Decarbonising the Critical and Backup Power Industry and Latest technologies in Storage Solutions concluded the day.
Other sessions covered Securing energy security for critical infrastructure, Innovative backup power solutions for data centres, and Energy Storage, Management and Efficiency.
During the Critical and Backup Power sector week, companies such as Perkins, Alcad, Cummins, Woodward and Saft will all present their latest technology advances focusing on alternators, diesel engines, controls and auto transfer switch control modules.
Claudia Konieczna, Exhibition Director, Middle East Energy, said: “We pride ourselves on showcasing the latest innovations and solutions within the energy sector. This is particularly important from a power continuity perspective, with much of the world’s critical infrastructure including data centres, medical facilities, transport and education driven by a sustained power supply."
The Energy Startup Hub, run in partnership with Green Climate Ventures and sponsored by Schneider Electric, also returns for a third week. To register for the online exhibition, click on https://bit.ly/3vRoGyU