The Flemish Green Party (Groen) has a new campaign: We close Doel (Dutch). Doel being the two nuclear reactors Doel 1 and 2. The campaign itself is rather confusing, but more about that in a later post. This post will be about a puzzling statement in their FAQ that caught my attention. It is part of the answer of the question whether, ahem, “the climate needs nuclear energy”. This is the statement (my emphasis):
Nevertheless there are a lot of opportunities in Belgium to take a different approach. If 180,000 people reduce their energy use by 5 kWh during peak moments (between 6 and 7 PM), then we can achieve a savings equivalent to the capacity of Doel 1 and 2.
I heard this claim before and thought it was unrealistic anyway. But while I had no details back then, I ignored it. Now I got some more details and I could reconstruct their argument:
- When 180,000 people abstain from using 5 kW during one hour (between 6 and 7 PM), then the total savings would amount to 900,000 kWh
- The “between 6 and 7 PM” is important here: this is the evening peak and the highest peak for which supply should be guaranteed. If the peak is not there or is lower, then the energy infrastructure could be smaller.
- 900,000 kW per hour is produced by a plant with a capacity of 900 MW
- Doel 1 and 2 have both a capacity of 433 MW → together this is 866 MW (so when we have an input of 900 MW, there is even something to spare).
Voilà, if 180,000 people reduce their energy use by 5 kWh in the evening peak, Doel 1 and 2 could be closed permanently.
All nice and well. However, I see two mayor problems with this.
5 kWh is a lot in Belgium! At least for an average user. If one wants to save 5 kWh between 6 and 7 PM, it means that one generally has to consume at least 5 kWh in that period. If one for example only consumes 2 kWh, it is not possible to have a savings of 5 kWh.
Personally, I have a rather average consumption of electricity and even my average DAILY consumption is well below 5 kWh, let alone using this amount of energy in one HOUR…
- Second, those 180,000 people need to do this on a long term base in order to be able to close Doel 1 and 2 permanently.
The statement that if 180,000 people reduce their energy use by 5 kWh then a savings equal to that of Doel 1 and 2 could be achieved, is in fact mathematically true. This might be an opportunity, sure, but I think that it will be a theoretical opportunity and that it has not much link with reality.