UK green system costs ‘modest’
UKERC: flexibility key to cheaper renewables integration
The additional costs intermittent renewables impose on the electricity system are “modest” according to a report published today by the UK Energy Research Council.
The UKEPC report entitled ‘The costs and impacts of intermittency’ put the costs of dispatchable generation held in reserve to cope with short-term fluctuations in output at £5/MWh or less at 30% renewables integration.
Transmission and network costs associated with variable renewable penetration levels up to 30% were estimated at £5-£20/MWh.
The UKERC said studies which found significantly higher costs are usually related to particularly inflexible systems, or where very little system re-optimisation was assumed.
The report’s authors said they found “very strong evidence” that without flexibility consumer bills will be higher than they need to be.
Co-author of the report Rob Gross said: “The conversation we have every winter, which is only about whether we have enough spare capacity to keep the lights from going out, is the wrong question.
“What we should be asking instead is not just how many power stations we need, but whether they’re the right kind of power stations to keep the system flexible enough”.
RenewableUK executive director Emma Pinchbeck said the report was a “green light” to the UK government to drive on their work to “replace outdated, clapped-out infrastructure with smart clean technology to meet our country’s energy needs”.
“Costs are dramatically lower for flexible systems so it makes perfect economic sense to rely on renewables to generate power,” she added.
Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit energy analyst Jonathan Marshall said studies of Europe generally showed lower costs than those in the UK because connecting national grids boosts flexibility.
“The obvious conclusion for the UK is that we should push ahead with planned power links to Belgium, France, Norway and elsewhere, making the trade of electricity easier and keeping bills for homes and businesses as low as possible,” he added.
Image: Kirkby Moor wind farm in Cumbria (Innogy UK Renewables)