Wind and Nuclear

No, I don\’t know whether these figures are correct or not (I would be most interested to know if they are).

The director of renewable generation for Centrica, our largest windfarm developer, last week revealed that the cost of this plan to create 33,000 megawatts (MW) of capacity has doubled in three years, from £40 billion to £80 billion.

But since, thanks to fluctuations in the wind, offshore turbines generate on average only 27.5 per cent of capacity, the actual power produced by these turbines would be only 9,000MW, putting its price at £8.8 million per MW.

The latest nuclear power station being built in Finland at a cost of £2.7 billion will produce 1600MW, 24 hours a day, representing £1.7 million per MW. In other words, six nuclear power stations could produce more electricity than all those windfarms for only a fifth of the price.

If Centrica really wants to help Britain keep its lights on, it could, for £80 billion, build 30 "carbon-free" nuclear power stations to generate 48,000MW of electricity, more than the average 47,000MW now produced by all Britain\’s power plants.

But since this would not count towards meeting our EU renewables target, to do anything so sensible would put us in serious breach of EU law.

But if they are then it\’s rather an indictment of the idea of letting politicians pick and choose amongst technologies, isn\’t it?

5 comments on “Wind and Nuclear

  1. I hate to admit it but there is a slight cheat there, the author considers the availability of wind power, but not of nuclear. Suppose that the nuclear power plant is operational 80 percent of the time – the rest being maintenance etc etc. Then it is 2.125 million per megawatt.

  2. Some confusion here, surely. The windfarm costs were for building them as were the nuclear. If you wish to go down that road, you have to factor in maintenance costs for wind power as well, to say nothing of the cost of connecting far off generators to the grid. The maintenance of a wind farm offshore will be expensive and then some.

  3. The numbers are (appear to be ) reasonable. Note that they are for capacity (“MW”), not for energy(“MWH”). Typical availibility for USA Nukes is running around 90% with load factors in the 80% range. Maintenance costs for wind turbines are comming in at much higher than expected at the 5-year on-line time frame-gearing is failing. All-in, it appears that a future KWH from an off-shore wind turbine costs about 4-5 times that of a 600-850 MW capacity Nuke.

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