Producing lots of electricity plan E

E stands for "economics." This fifth plan is a rough guess for what might happen in a liberated energy market with a strong carbon price. On a level economic playing field with a strong price signal preventing the emission of CO2, we don't expect a diverse solution with a wide range of power-costs; rather, we expect an economically optimal solution that delivers the required power at the lowest cost. And when "clean coal" and nuclear go head to head on price, it's nuclear that wins. (Engineers at a UK electricity generator told me that the capital cost of regular dirty coal power stations is £1 billion per GW, about the same as nuclear; but the capital cost of "clean-coal" power, including carbon capture and storage, is roughly £2 billion per GW.) I've assumed that solar power in other people's deserts loses to nuclear power when we take into account the cost of the required 2000-km-long transmission lines (though van Voorthuysen (2008) reckons that with Nobel-prize-worthy developments in solar-powered production of chemical fuels, solar power in deserts would be the economic equal of nuclear power). Offshore wind also loses to nuclear, but I've assumed that onshore wind costs about the same as nuclear.

Here's where plan E gets its 50kWh/d/p of electricity from. Wind: 4kWh/d/p (10GW average). Solar PV: 0. Hydroelectricity and waste incineration: 1.3kWh/d/p. Wave: 0. Tide: 0.7kWh/d/p. And nuclear: 44kWh/d/p (110GW).

This plan has a ten-fold increase in our nuclear power over 2007 levels. Britain would have 110 GW, which is roughly double France's nuclear fleet. I included a little tidal power because I believe a well-designed tidal lagoon facility can compete with nuclear power.

In this plan, Britain has no energy imports (except for the uranium, which, as we said before, is not conventionally counted as an import).

Figure 27.9 shows all five plans.

Nuclear: 44 kWh/d

Figure 27.8. Plan E

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