Reply to post: Re: The UK mostly powered by coal?

Dyson to build electric car that doesn't suck

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

Re: The UK mostly powered by coal?

Coal dispatchable on request? Pull the other one! It’s slow to fire up and better suited to base load.

Actually it is VERY slow to fire up, but the point is that other than in heavy maintenance you don't let a coal fired station go cold. Ramp up times aren't as fast as a modern CCGT, but the output of coal can be significantly varied through changing the firing rate, and against reasonably predictable patterns of demand coal stations are a really good generating asset.

Yes, we need addional capacity if we have a fully electric transport network, but that’s not going to happen anything like overnight

As an industry insider, I've a good degree of insight on this matter, and the change to EVs is likely to be demand led post 2020, and that changeover will be sudden and dramatic (like the disappearance of CRT displays and TVs). If it weren't for the electricity system constraints, UK car sales would be around 85% EV by around 2030. Post 2020, what sane car maker will spend £5bn developing a new ICE car for European markets? And when the EV volume matches ICE volume, people simply won;'t want the heavily taxed old tech, and suddenly it is in a death spiral of falling economies of scale, low investment, and rising taxes and restrictions as cities rush to ban ICE vehicles (as they've already announced plans to).

It also will increase demand during what is currently off-peak, so won’t need as much extra as they are implying.

Wake and smell the coffee, Steve! Look at the end of life dates for the AGR fleet - 9 GW of baseload power going off line by 2030, with a third of that gone by 2024. And about 15 GW, half of the UK CCGT fleet was built in the 1990s "dash for gas", and is coming to the end of its service life - they were only ever designed for 20-25 years use. The remaining coal plant is becoming less and less economic, and policy is to close it by 2025, so that's another 10 GW of mid merit plant to replace. So those need replacing regardless - and we've got sod all reserve capacity in the system, BEFORE we start adding EV loads. So that's needed regardless.

Now, if the load profile changes to have more off peak demand (which I concur with you that it will), that will require higher peak capacity (unless you can guarantee that nobody will charge their car between 16:00 and 21:00 on a winter evening). And you STILL need to change the asset mix, because the plant that currently runs as peaking plant or festers down at the low-merit end of the curve isn't suitable to run more often - its far too expensive and has high emissions. Personally, I think EDF are (deliberately) being wildly conservative in saying we need 1/3 more generation capacity, because of the issues I've outlined above, and because government policy is also to "decarbonise heat", meaning more use of electric heating systems.

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