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Pumped hydro storage solves UK Nuclear headache

Hitachi, the parent company of Horizon Nuclear Power, has announced today, that it has cancelled development at the proposed Wylfa Newydd power station in Anglesey, North Wales. This is the second such nuclear project to be cancelled in recent months. It might mark an end to Britain’s nuclear energy ambitions and puts at risk energy security and thousands of jobs. An alternative energy strategy is needed which invests in more renewables and pumped storage hydro.

 At present, there are eight nuclear sites generating nuclear power in the UK. However, only one of these is planned to be operating by 2030. Today’s news therefore means that five of the planned six new nuclear power stations are unlikely to be built.

 The six planned nuclear plants were designed to provide 15 percent of the UK’s power needs  but any  failure to adopt a new energy solution could plunge the UK into massive power cuts and higher energy bills.

 In addition, these planned nuclear plants were meant to meet the majority of the UK’s required carbon emission savings, as it phases out our coal-powered stations. Justin Bowden, the GMB union’s national secretary for energy, said the decision raised “the very real prospect of a UK energy crisis.”

 One solution for the country is to invest in large-scale renewables. As Business Secretary Greg Clark said, ”renewables had been getting cheaper in the past five years while nuclear had become more expensive because of safety measures.”  In addition, renewables are much more competitive than nuclear because they are quicker and cheaper to build, and are increasingly subsidy-free.

 In the UK development pipeline is 4.1GW of pump storage hydro capacity, which could help significantly to plug the gap created by the lack of new nuclear plants, whilst at the same time help solve the intermittency issues that increased renewable generation may cause.

 Unlike nuclear, pump storage hydro (PSH) does not require government subsidies to generate. However, as it is not currently placed on the UK’s Capacity Market, funding for new developments may be problematic. This, however, can be solved with a change in current government policy placing the PSH generation on a level playing field with the other technologies.

 There are seven potential PSH sites which during construction would offer up to thousands of jobs in high impact areas and which could generate the same levels of power as two nuclear plants. In addition, the PSH plants could use excess renewable energy, generated at times whilst demand is low, and be ready to import large levels of power back to the grid when demand is high.

Notes to the editor:

 Mark Wilson CEO of the ILI Group has three PSH sites for over 1.5 GW at the planning stage said, “The UK is at a pivotal point to become a world leader in Renewable generation and driving forward to hit all our CO2 targets. With all the Renewables in the pipeline, especially offshore wind, Pumped Storage Hydro is the crucial component to ensure all these technologies work for our futures energy mix.”

 A report by the Carbon Trust stated that 6GW of Energy storage can save the UK £2.4 billion per annum or the equivalent to £50-£150 per year, for every home in the UK. This is achievable now with a proven technology, which we know will not let us down.

 Intelligent Land Investments (ILI) Group PLC is a company whose main aim is to bring 1.5 GW of energy storage to the UK electricity market via three new pump storage hydro installations in Scotland.

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