"Would firm generators facilitate or deter variable renewable energy in a carbon-free electricity system?"

Economic incentives to run high-capital-cost technologies with high capacity factors puts nuclear in direct competition with variable renewables.
In every simulation we did, putting more nuclear on the system leads to building less wind and solar and building more wind and solar leads to building less nuclear.

We have never seen a case where building more nuclear facilitates more wind and solar.

The idea that nuclear facilitates wind and solar by providing backup when the sun doesn't shine or the wind is not blowing does not seem to cost out.

If you have the nuclear, why would you build the wind turbines?

[Solar correlates with demand, so has added value.]

I should note that people are coming up with designs coupling nuclear power with heat storage, with short-term generating capacity substantially exceeding the magnitude of the sustained heat source.

The economics of this "dispatchable" nuclear could be different.
By the way, a slightly more recent version of the model used in that paper is available here:

As I point out elsewhere in this thread:

There are many conditions under which nuclear, wind and solar all compete in a least-cost electricity system.

These technologies will compete in a market and the success of one will come at some expense to the others.

• • •

Missing some Tweet in this thread? You can try to force a refresh

Keep Current with KenCaldeira

KenCaldeira Profile picture

Stay in touch and get notified when new unrolls are available from this author!

Read all threads

This Thread may be Removed Anytime!


Twitter may remove this content at anytime! Save it as PDF for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video
  1. Follow @ThreadReaderApp to mention us!

  2. From a Twitter thread mention us with a keyword "unroll"
@threadreaderapp unroll

Practice here first or read more on our help page!

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just two indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3/month or $30/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!

Follow Us on Twitter!