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Bob Meinetz's picture
Nuclear Power Policy Activist, Independent

I am a passionate advocate for the environment and nuclear energy. With the threat of climate change, I’ve embarked on a mission to help overcome the fears of nuclear energy. I’ve been active in...

  • Member since 2018
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  • Jan 15, 2021

"Shearwater Energy Ltd., a United Kingdom-based hybrid clean energy company, is developing a wind-SMR (Small Modular Reactor) and hydrogen production hybrid energy project in North Wales. The project would provide 3 GWe of zero-carbon energy and is also expected to produce over 3 million kilograms of green hydrogen per year for use by the UK’s transport sector, ensuring full utilization of the energy produced. Shearwater has also submitted an outline proposal to the British Government and the devolved governments of Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, all of whom stand to derive considerable economic benefits in connection with the proposed project.

Shearwater has selected the leading U.S. SMR technology being developed by NuScale Power, LLC to provide the clean, base load and load-following energy for the proposed hybrid energy project. Shearwater has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with NuScale Power to further collaboration in advancing the proposed project."

Even better when the Welsh realize batteries are not required (or turbines, either)!


Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Jan 15, 2021

Interesting-- haven't seen such a project proposed before. Would this presumably be the first nuclear/wind/hydrogen project anywhere? 

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Jan 15, 2021

I haven't seen it either, Matt. IMO, it's brilliant marketing.

If Shearwater is going to build nuclear, the only reason to build a windfarm nearby is for appearances. Maybe local residents need them to feel comfortable with nuclear - if so, they're worth every penny. Shearwater doesn't even need to plug them in!

For a few years the company might need to generate a token amount of hydrogen, too. Then, it can restore Wylfa's pristine ocean vistas by "decommissioning" turbines/electrolyzer with dynamite.

Nathan Wilson's picture
Nathan Wilson on Jan 19, 2021

Yes, the 3 million kg of H2 per year that Shearwater is proposing to produce is just a token amount. 

Assuming the conversion uses 50 kWh/kg, that's just 17 MW of the 3 GW plant output, about 0.5% of nameplate.

On the other hand, a green hydrogen production system which is associated with a new nuclear plant is much more credibly green than one associated with wind or solar.  It need not always be the case, but electrolysis systems today are still far too expensive to operate at low capacity factor to follow availability of variable renewable power. 

Therefore the roadmap for green hydrogen must start with new clean baseload electricity.

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Jan 19, 2021

Is it a token amount in the sense that it's greenwashing, or is it a token amount in that this is the first dipping of the toes in these waters for proof of concept, slow build while the H2 market actually develops, etc.? Perhaps a bit of both? 

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Jan 20, 2021

Therefore the roadmap for green hydrogen must start with new clean baseload electricity.

Faux-green hydrogen made from methane was originally promoted by the oil industry as a replacement for gasoline at 50,000 U.S. service stations. It's since been adopted by the renewables industry to promote solar & wind farms.

Though truly green hydrogen made from solar and wind using electrolysis is possible, it will forever be impractical. Roundtrip efficiency, including refrigeration, compression, and transporation, then generating electricity with a PEM fuel cell, is currently ~6%. A waste of money and precious time.


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