Journal Article

Electricity in Europe: exiting fossil fuels?

Richard Green and Iain Staffell

in Oxford Review of Economic Policy

Published on behalf of The Oxford Review of Economic Policy Ltd

Volume 32, issue 2, pages 282-303
Published in print January 2016 | ISSN: 0266-903X
Published online April 2016 | e-ISSN: 1460-2121 | DOI:

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  • Energy Economics
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There are many options for generating electricity with low carbon emissions, and the electrification of heat and transport can decarbonize energy use across the economy. This places the power sector at the forefront of any move away from fossil fuels, even though fossil-fuelled generators are more dependable and flexible than nuclear reactors or intermittent renewables, and vital for the second-by-second balancing of supply and demand. Renewables tend to supplement, rather than replace, fossil capacity, although output from fossil-fuelled stations will fall and some will have to retire to avoid depressing wholesale power prices. At times of low demand and high renewable output prices can turn negative, but electricity storage, long-distance interconnection, and flexible demand may develop to absorb any excess generation. Simulations for Great Britain show that while coal may be eliminated from the mix within a decade, natural gas has a long-term role in stations with or without carbon capture and storage, depending on its cost and the price of carbon.

Keywords: electricity generation; fossil fuels; carbon capture and storage; renewable generators; electricity prices; Q4; L94

Journal Article.  9798 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Energy Economics ; Energy and Utilities

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