Prospects in a carbon constrained world, an MIT view



Left, average system cost of electricity (in $/MWh) and (right) nuclear installed capacity (% of peak demand) in the New England region of the United States and the Tianjin-Beijing-Tangshan (T-B-T) region of China for different carbon constraints (gCO2/kWh) and three scenarios of various available technologies in 2050: (a) no nuclear allowed; (b) nuclear is allowed at nominal overnight capital cost ($5500 per kWe for New England and $2800 per kWe for T-B-T); and (c) nuclear is allowed with improved overnight capital cost ($4100 per kWe for New England and $2100 per kWe for T-B-T. Source: MITEI, The future of nuclear energy in a carbon-constrained world (Simulations were performed with an MIT system optimisation tool called GenX. For a given power market the required inputs include hourly electricity demand, hourly weather patterns, economic costs (capital, operations, and fuel) for all power plants (nuclear, wind and solar with battery storage, fossil with and without carbon capture and storage), and their ramp-up rates. The GenX simulations were used to identify the electrical system generation mix that minimizes average system electricity costs in each of these markets. The cost escalation seen in the no-nuclear scenarios with aggressive carbon constraints is mostly due to the additional build-out and cost of energy storage, which becomes necessary in scenarios that rely exclusively on variable renewable energy technologies. The current world-average carbon intensity of the power sector is about 500 grams of CO2 equivalent per kilowatt hour (g/kWhe); according to climate change stabilisation scenarios developed by the International Energy Agency in 2017, the power-sector carbon intensity targets to limit global average warming to 2°C range from 10 to 25 g/kWh by 2050 and less than 2 g/kWh by 2060.)


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