Surely we need the stable base load that can be provided by nuclear power?
Nuclear power stations do break down and the inflexibility of nuclear power is an embarassment:
Like all sources power, nuclear power can fail (the load factor of
nuclear power stations is normally about 70%). But when a nuclear power
station fails, it is much more disruptive than when the wind dies down
in a particular area:
If the wind level decreases in a given area it will normally do so gradually.
There are normally several hours warning that this will happen.
one or two wind turbines fail within a wind farm this is much less
disruptive than if a nuclear power station fails, when 1 GW or more is suddenly lost from the grid.
Nuclear power is very inflexible: its output cannot be
increased or decreased easily to meet variations in demand. If there were many
countries in Europe with as much nuclear power as France, there would
be a large excess of power being produced at night. Luckily for France,
there is enough residual demand at night in the rest of Europe to mop
up their excess capacity.
It is true that wind power cannot be varied according to demand but
other renewable sources can be. These include hydro power, geothermal
power, and concentrating solar power (CSP) with heat storage and backup
sources of heat.
By connecting up renewable sources across a wide area via an HVDC
'supergrid', peaks and troughs in supply and demand in different
locations can be ironed out.
In general, variability in wind power is much less of a problem than is sometimes suggested: