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The Electricity Generation Infrastructure Transition to 2050: A Technical and Economic Assessment of the United Kingdom Energy Policy

Sithole, Henry (2016) The Electricity Generation Infrastructure Transition to 2050: A Technical and Economic Assessment of the United Kingdom Energy Policy. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Abstract

The threat of dangerous climate impacting on, economies and communities require urgent collective action to reduce anthropogenic greenhouse gases mainly from energy production and use. The UK energy policy has a strong focus on energy security and climate change with an emphasis to accelerate a transition from a fossil fuel to low-carbon based electricity supply system. The development of a low-carbon electricity supply system faces a multiplicity of challenges ranging from policy instability and capital investment. At the backdrop of these complex transitional challenges, this research tracks the evolution of the UK electricity sector to a low-carbon 2050 future. It examines the dynamics affecting the electricity generation system as it adopts and adapts to a regime of domestically engineered low-carbon policies designed to develop a near carbon neutral electricity supply infrastructure by 2050. This thesis explores the resilience of the UK electricity generation infrastructure as it is exposed to security of supply risks particularly at a time when the system is threatened by potential capacity shortfalls arising from the eminent closure of aging nuclear and coal power plants, with the latter facing total demise in the wake of the crippling European pollution regulations targeting large combustion fossil fuel plants. The large scale deployment of variable renewable energy technologies for the electricity generation sector has a potential to impact on the security of supply. This research uses the ‘Energy Optimisation Calculator’ (EOC), a quantitative approach to develop a least-cost and pollution electricity generation portfolio for the UK 2050 future, taking into account the technological, investment, and environmental constraints that characterise an energy system under transition. The flexibility of the model adopted allows for the dynamics that affect the electricity generation sector to be analysed in an integrative manner, providing results that shed insight into the projected outlook of the electricity generation sector as it decarbonises. The model develops different energy scenarios to reflect on the potential pathways the energy supply system could follow to achieve the energy policy objectives. The results generated from this thesis provide an up to date, focused and integrated perspective on how the electricity system could potentially evolve as it transitions towards a low-carbon future.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Engineering (Sheffield) > Mechanical Engineering (Sheffield)
Depositing User: Dr Henry Sithole
Date Deposited: 05 Oct 2016 12:22
Last Modified: 01 Oct 2017 00:18
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/13939

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