Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

The effect of a nuclear baseload in a zero-carbon electricity system: An analysis for the UK

Cárdenas, Bruno; Ibanez, Roderaid; Rouse, James; Swinfen-Styles, Lawrie; Garvey, Seamus


Senior Research Fellow in Thermo- Mechanical Energy Sotrage

Roderaid Ibanez

Lawrie Swinfen-Styles


This paper explores the effect of having a nuclear baseload in a 100% carbon-free electricity system The study analyses numerous scenarios based on different penetrations of conventional nuclear, wind and solar PV power, different levels of overgeneration and different combinations between medium and long duration energy stores (hydrogen and compressed air, respectively) to determine the configuration that achieves the lowest total cost of electricity (TCoE). At their current cost, new baseload nuclear power plants are too expensive. Results indicate the TCoE is minimised when demand is supplied entirely by renewables with no contribution from conventional nuclear. However, small modular reactors may achieve costs of ∼£60/MWh (1.5× current wind cost) in the future. With such costs, supplying ∼80% of the country's electricity demand with nuclear power could minimise the TCoE. In this scenario, wind provides the remaining 20% plus a small percentage of overgeneration (∼2.5%). Hydrogen in underground caverns provides ∼30.5 TWh (81 days) of long-duration energy storage while CAES systems provide 2.8 TWh (∼8 days) of medium-duration storage. This configuration achieves costs of ∼65.8 £/MWh. Batteries (required for short duration imbalances) are not included in the figure. The TCoE achieved will be higher once short duration storage is accounted for.


Cárdenas, B., Ibanez, R., Rouse, J., Swinfen-Styles, L., & Garvey, S. (2023). The effect of a nuclear baseload in a zero-carbon electricity system: An analysis for the UK. Renewable Energy, 205, 256-272.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 6, 2023
Online Publication Date Jan 27, 2023
Publication Date 2023-03
Deposit Date Feb 27, 2023
Publicly Available Date Feb 27, 2023
Journal Renewable Energy
Print ISSN 0960-1481
Electronic ISSN 1879-0682
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 205
Pages 256-272
Keywords Nuclear baseload; Small modular reactors; Energy storage capacity; Renewable mix; Grid flexibility; Levelized cost electricity
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This article is maintained by: Elsevier; Article Title: The effect of a nuclear baseload in a zero-carbon electricity system: An analysis for the UK; Journal Title: Renewable Energy; CrossRef DOI link to publisher maintained version:; Content Type: article; Copyright: © 2023 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.


You might also like

Downloadable Citations