Britain’s energy supply is increasingly driven by the weather. As spring progresses, large numbers of new solar farms will make a noticeable difference to the energy mix. Wind farms on and offshore are also being brought on line.
At the same time the decision over whether to go ahead with Britain’s first new atomic plant in 30 years in Somerset has been put off again. Even if it is built the station is unlikely to be producing power before 2030. This leaves 15 years in which the electric output from renewables in their many forms will grow dramatically as costs fall. Solar, wind and small-scale hydropower are all now cheaper than new nuclear build and undersea turbines and even wave power are getting more competitive.
One big drawback to acceptance of renewables has been opponents drawing attention to the quixotic nature of British weather causing output to vary; but even that problem is being conquered. Individual solar systems for homes can now come with domestic water heating devices and batteries to run the house when the sun goes down. Much larger district batteries, storing energy from surplus wind and solar during the day, are providing power in the evening peak.
Energy policies seem to have lagged behind the exciting possibilities this holds out for Britain’s energy supply, contrasting sharply with enthusiasm for the stagnant nuclear industry. But clever engineering, smoothing out the peaks and troughs of renewable power, looks like making the nuclear industry redundant before a new station can be built.
Source: The Guardian