In this article, based on data used by Greenpeace to support its conviction, Raquel Montón explains that coal and nuclear power can be totally dispensed with and that renewables could potentially supply almost all electricity generation in our country.
We have just learnt about the report of the Commission of Experts on Energy Transition: Analysis and proposals for decarbonisation, and their assumption that renewables “have the potential to provide almost all electricity generation“. This is an undisputed statement but the question is how and when we want to achieve it. The population is clear about it, according to a survey published in December last year 62% would support the closure of coal and 72% the orderly phase-out of nuclear power plants. Faced with this situation, it was necessary to ask ourselves if this could be done while maintaining the security of supply.
That is why in Greenpeace we have taken a step ahead of the experts report and commissioned a study to the Technological Research Institute (IIT) of the University of Comillas of Madrid and Bingo! we demonstrated that it is viable to shut down all nuclear and coal thermal power plants in 2025.
In Greenpeace we have taken a step ahead of the experts report and commissioned a study to the Technological Research Institute (IIT) of the University of Comillas of Madrid and Bingo! we demonstrated that it is viable to shut down all nuclear and coal thermal power plants in 2025
The security of supply is fully guaranteed, because the analysis has been carried out (with all safety parameters) and based on the worst case of extreme drought and little wind of the historical series, so that the Minister of Energy and all of us can rest assured that no one will ever and never be left without electricity.
But it seems evident that a system free of nuclear risks and free of pollutants will cost us very dearly, surely not! the difference in the total cost of a scenario without coal or nuclear with a moderate and contained growth of electricity demand and high percentage of renewable versus another that maintains both energies is 1,181 million euros, and if only nuclear is maintained, the difference is 1,116 million euros. Conversely, if both are maintained and the demand increases and the renewables only reach the legally binding objectives, then the difference virtually disappears to just 186 million euros.
This difference in costs is in no way decisive when putting in the balance the pros and cons of the electric system without coal or nuclear in the next 8 years. Moreover, this same system, but considering the wind and hydraulic average values which are more likely than the extremes, has lower operating costs and less than half of the emissions.
In general, all the scenarios that we have studied have similar costs with and without nuclear and coal plants. The greater efficiency is, the lower costs are in all cases, the more renewables the lower operating costs, the higher investments in renewables the greater employment
In general, all the scenarios that we have studied have similar costs with and without nuclear and coal plants. The greater efficiency is, the lower costs are in all cases, the more renewables, the lower operating costs, the higher investments in renewables, the greater employment. Therefore maintaining coal and nuclear makes no sense, and we have published the figures that support this in the study “Technical feasibility study of electricity generation scenarios in the medium term in Spain”.
And there is still even more, we have also seen what would happen if we apply measures of flexibility to the system that currently lacks this flexibility because it is dominated by an inflexible generation and by a demand with few possibilities to do so.
Greenpeace report assesses an increase in the interconnection capacity or hydraulic pumping, and the effect of smart charging of electric vehicles or the activation of demand, and although the analysis is individualized and does not allow to see the aggregate effect of all of them, undoubtedly this analysis gives us an idea of its potential, for example the smart charging of 100% of electric vehicles (half a million vehicles), or the active management of demand in about 13,000 MW per day have allowed the system to be flexible enough, so that no additional investment be necessary.
Obviously, both options present novel challenges for their achievement, but they should not be left unconsidered in any way. One of the least complex possibilities, in the case of the active management of demand, would most probably involve resorting to industrial demand, for the volume needed.
All this as well as well as the demands of citizenship and the gender perspective throughout the development of the law should be taken into account in the development of the Law on Climate Change and Energy Transition.
The compliance in Spain of the Paris Agreement is morally and legally binding, and entails the transformation of the current energy system into a smart, efficient and 100% renewable system. This depends on a plan to close the dirty energies and replace them with renewable energies, instead of the life sentences for coal and nuclear waste that the government wants to impose by law.
Responsible for Greenpeace‘s anti-nuclear campaign