Global Apollo Programme Report

  • The Global Apollo Programme Report has the objective of making carbon-free baseload electricity less costly than coal within ten years.
  • The report identifies that nuclear power, renewables, and coal and gas subject to carbon capture and storage (CCS) all have important roles to play in decarbonising  electricity generation. It also identifies the importance of energy storage and smart grids.
  • Nuclear generation working with renewables has already allowed countries such as France and Sweden to achieve the goals of this report.
  • In our view the main challenge would be the development of affordable, large scale energy storage. If this is achieved this has the potential to enable nuclear and renewables to work more effectively together and allow a more rapid shift away from fossil fuels.
  • We support the call for more public R&D in to the areas advocated by the report. We also believe there is a need for more R&D investment in longer-term nuclear energy technologies.

The "Global Apollo Programme Report", announced today, advocates greater R&D spending  to make carbon-free baseload electricity less costly than electricity from coal, and to do it within 10 years.

The authors note that there is no single magic bullet. The report identified renewables, nuclear power and coal and gas with carbon capture and storage as part of the clean energy supply they advocate.

"First there are the three main types of clean energy supply: renewables (especially solar and wind), nuclear power, and coal and gas subject to carbon capture and storage (CCS). All have important roles to play, depending on the country in question. In sunny areas like India, Africa and SE Asia solar can play a central role. In more Northern areas, like Japan and Northern Europe, nuclear has an important role, as does CCS in areas rich in coal and natural gas."

Some countries have already achieved the aims of the report, and they have done so by using nuclear energy. France and Sweden have competitive electricity generation prices, both with a tiny amount of conventional fossil fuel generation. France has achieved this primarily using nuclear energy with a smaller amount of renewables; Sweden has used a more equal mix of hydro and nuclear generation.

The authors focus on the need for great public R&D expenditure in renewables (with a heavy emphasis on solar), energy storage and smart grids to achieve its aim of making carbon-free baseload electricity less costly than electricity.

What is clear is that the main areas of improvement needed, out of the areas identified by report, by are storage and smart grids. The report notes that the basic generation costs of some renewables are already competitive, but it is the intermittency of sources such as solar and wind that prevent them being viable replacements for fossil fuels.

Breakthroughs in storage have the potential to benefit all forms of low carbon generation. Nuclear generation provides reliable and constant electricity supplies, but variations in demand and variations in renewable generation can eat into the amount of baseload generation required. The development of efficient large scale storage would help nuclear and renewables to work more effectively together and enable a more rapid shift away from greenhouse gas emitting fossil fuels.

The report rightly identifies regions nearer the equator as ones where solar has a greater role to play, as there is more consistency in the amount of sunlight received throughout the year. Solar can generate a lot of electricity during the summer in Northern Europe, but much less during the winter. Energy storage to smooth day to day variations is one thing. Energy storage for a whole season would be far more challenging.

There is much to support in the Global Apollo Programme, provided that its particular focus on select technologies isn't seen as being exclusive. The reports support R&D in other clean energy technologies, focussing more on the imbalance between the amounts spent on fossil fuel and renewable production subsidies compared to the much smaller amount invested in R&D. We also believe there is a need for more R&D investment in longer-term nuclear energy technologies.

It is also important that efforts to invest in R&D to develop future solutions do not detract from actions taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions today.

For more information contact Jonathan Cobb or other members of our press team. 

 


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