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07 Apr 2022, 13:51
Kerstine Appunn

Longer nuclear plant runtimes push out renewables - analysts

Clean Energy Wire

Letting existing nuclear plants run longer will lead to large amounts of renewable energy going to waste, a paper by Energy Brainpool, commissioned by eco-energy cooperative Green Planet Energy, says. The lifetime extension of France’s nuclear power stations alone would mean that in 2030, some two million megawatt-hours of renewable energy would be pushed out of the grid in France, Spain and Germany. On this amount, 617,000 average households could be sustained for a year, the researchers write. The reason why renewable energy would be lost is that the power production of nuclear plants cannot be easily adapted according to the feed-in of renewable energies. In the event of too high power feed-in mostly wind and solar PV installations are shut down, because nuclear operators generally reduce their production to around 80 percent of their installed capacity only. Energy Brainpool has calculated that if the French nuclear reactors were to remain in operation until 2030, the amount of green electricity wasted would increase by around 12 percent. Because of the interconnected European grid and power market, this would also affect the neighbouring countries’ renewable input. This problem – which is also a financial one because renewable power that is curbed by grid operators still has to be paid – would become even greater if more countries decided to let their reactors run longer, as Belgium has recently decided to do.

In Germany, the debate around the extension of the operating times of the three remaining nuclear plants has been reignited by the looming threat of energy shortages due to the Ukraine war and the sanctions on Russia. The economy and climate ministry has made it clear, however, that little benefit would be derived from keeping the reactors in operation.

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