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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

Studying at Cambridge

Alexandre Head

Intermittency considerations and sustainability analysis of renewable energy in the UK

Alexandre Head

Intermittency considerations and sustainability analysis of renewable energy in the UK

This study considers the energy system as a whole, by focussing on individual generation technologies. Conclusions can be drawn reflecting how these technologies could be combined sustainably. A comparison of existing studies and industry costs is made, suitable generation technologies are considered in terms of capital, O/M, fuel and external costs. The difference between spinning and supplemental reserve capacity affects the cost per unit of electricity generated and a comparison of plant operation (from 500hrs/yr to baseload) is made. When adapted to incorporate externalities, the presumed low cost option for reserve duty is shown to be more expensive than alternatives. CCGT is selected as the least cost option for both spinning and supplemental reserve duty but a sustainable electricity system contains a range of technical approaches. Suitable storage technologies are shown to have lower external costs, presenting proven and cost-effective solutions to supplemental reserve duty, especially when storing surplus intermittent renewable production. Remaining diverse, flexible and efficient, a sustainable solution accounts for all external impacts and adapts with changing demand, technology and operational requirements.