20th July 2024

Through the time that the Vogtle nuclear models 3 & Four have been underneath building, greater than 4,500 MW of photo voltaic has been constructed within the state of Georgia. That is double the height CAPACITY (MW) that these nukes will (ultimately) convey on-line — and at 1/5 the fee. After all, photo voltaic is not a 24/7 useful resource. However let’s look at the present and future GENERATION (MWh) from these assets.

Bryan Jacob | November 22, 2023 | Georgia, Nuclear, Photo voltaic

Photo voltaic power began to emerge in Georgia in 2012. Coincidentally, that was across the similar time that Southern Firm started building on Plant Vogtle nuclear models Three and 4.

Plant Vogtle Unit Three grew to become operational earlier this yr and Unit Four is predicted to be on-line by Q1 of 2024. Nevertheless, when the Georgia Public Service Fee (PSC) licensed these models for building again in 2009, they have been anticipated to be accomplished in 2016 and 2017. The truth that they’re seven years late and greater than double the unique price range has been nicely documented.

Over that very same interval whereas Vogtle 3 & Four have been underneath building, 4,500 MW of photo voltaic capability (MW) has been developed in Georgia and at simply 1/5 the price of these two Vogtle models. By comparability, Vogtle 3 & Four will ultimately present 2,200 MW of capability for Georgia.

Earlier than you retort “However the solar doesn’t shine on a regular basis” — I’m nicely conscious. That, too, has been explored moderately extensively. I’ll refer you to this enlightening podcast by Volts: What? The solar isn’t at all times shining?!

It’s certainly constructive to contemplate the quantity of power generated (MWh) from photo voltaic along with the general capability (MW) constructed. Though nuclear models typically produce energy for extra hours in a day than photo voltaic initiatives do, that’s solely true after building is completed.

These photo voltaic models have been already producing for years, with much more photo voltaic deliberate to come back on-line within the coming years. In the meantime, Vogtle Three simply began producing this yr (with Vogtle Four additional delayed till 2024). It bought me questioning: how lengthy will it take these new nuclear models (working 24 hours per day) to provide as a lot electrical energy as photo voltaic models have already produced and are anticipated to provide into the long run?

Spoiler Alert: Vogtle 3 & Four received’t catch up!

If Vogtle 3 & Four had been accomplished on-time, the scenario may have been completely different. Nuclear output would have had the lead after 2016 and it will have taken till 2032 earlier than the anticipated cumulative photo voltaic output eclipsed nuclear.

However due to the multi-year delays in beginning up Vogtle 3 & 4, photo voltaic has constructed up such a lead that the brand new nuclear models could by no means catch up. And for the reason that plans in Georgia forecast continued photo voltaic buildout with no new nuclear crops at present deliberate — even with steady operation, the cumulative output from these new nukes won’t ever exceed the cumulative output from photo voltaic.

This graph reveals the output for Georgia Energy’s share of Vogtle 3 & 4 (45.7% = 1 GW) in comparison with the technology from photo voltaic initiatives supplying the Georgia Energy system (Three GW now, and persevering with to develop).

The closest the Vogtle 3 & Four output comes is in 2025 when these models are totally dispatched and new photo voltaic buildout (already accredited) is continuous however not but operational. By 2026, the annual output of photo voltaic is predicted to exceed the annual output of Vogtle 3 & 4; so from that time onward, the cumulative margin of victory for photo voltaic will solely enhance.

As clear power advocates, SACE anticipates even additional and sooner enlargement of photo voltaic as we strategy 2030 and past. That is exactly what local weather science signifies is critical.

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