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Nuclear to cost UK S$1.18b a year more than flexi power

[LONDON] Building a new large nuclear plant alongside renewable power would cost the UK as much as 660 million pounds (S$1.18 billion) more a year compared with installing flexible energy technologies.

That's the conclusion of a report by Wartsila OYJ Abp, who said that by investing in seven gigawatts of battery energy storage and advanced flexible gas, the UK would rapidly boost the share of renewable energy by 2030.

The problem for large scale nuclear power is its cost and time. Each project can cost 20 billion pounds or more and take a decade to deliver. Wind farms need a fraction of that and can be built in less than five years. The UK government last week pledged to support the development of small modular reactors to the tune of 500 million pounds.

A grid dominated by renewable energy will need batteries that can store wind and solar power. At the moment the technology isn't able to be deployed at scale, although analysts see a boom over the coming years.

Batteries will be needed to balance the grid between times of high wind and solar output and peaks in power demand, mitigating intermittent supplies.

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Curtailment costs have to be paid to renewable energy producers to turn off their production at times of high output and low demand. Since nuclear plants need to run at full power, higher costs are incurred.

"Rather than firefighting in response to stresses on the grid, the UK should now look to invest to solve the issues permanently," Jyrki Leino, senior manager at Wartsila, said.

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