Archive for October, 2010

At the present time, the total amount of electricity delivered from onshore wind farms in the US exceeds the production from twelve nuclear plants.  This I’ve calculated from the article by Karl Boer, as noted below.  Professor Boer did his analysis using installed capacity rather than delivered kilowatts and I thought the article might confuse the issue for some readers.  Either way you look at it, wind generated electricity has become a mainstream, competitive energy source.

Wind farms installed in 2009 totaled 10,000 megawatts rated capacity.  This was an increase of forty percent over 2008.  Installations have surpassed previous year installations every year since 2004.  The pace finally slowed in 2010 due to tight financing and lower demand for electricity but the Global Wind Energy Coalition (GWEC) expects installations to accelerate again in 2012.

One of my old high school friends is now working for the Department of Energy and recently put some troubling information on me.  After all these years the DOE is still collecting radioactive materials left over from the Manhattan Project and transporting them to a location in the southwest for burial.  Meanwhile, radioactive material from active nuke plants continues to increase and remains on site at plant locations.  The proposed Yucca Mountain storage site has been determined not suitable.

The cost to provide security for nuclear waste stored in barrels at plant locations runs into the millions of dollars for each plant.  This constant vigilance, which purpose is to protect against terrorism, is a perpetual expense.  Wind farms, on the other hand, have no security or decommissioning costs worth mentioning and zero fuel costs.  When you consider that the kilowatts from a wind farm cost about two thirds less to deliver than those from a nuke plant, it’s clear that the nuclear industry can only survive through political patronage or voter apathy, not through safety or cost analysis.

And so far we’re only talking onshore wind.  The US has lagged behind Europe and China in developing offshore wind and so design, engineering and construction costs for this industry are expected to be higher at least for a while.  Even so, the east coast states with Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards are pushing offshore wind into reality.  The Cape Wind project off Massachusetts has received all its permits and three other offshore wind projects are in the permitting process: one off Rhode Island’s Block Island, another off Atlantic City and a third off Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.

A Renewable Energy Standard in Florida would force utilities here to explore offshore wind and other renewable energy options.  At present, utilities presume that ratepayers are satisfied to live with nuclear insecurity and back breaking construction costs to get their electricity.  Not so! At least, I’m not! Offshore winds around this state have enough energy packed into them to make nuclear lobbyists go broke.  And did I mention that Florida is the sunshine state and not the wind state?

Sam Kendall

Solar Today, Sept-Oct 2010, Can Wind and Solar Reduce Dependence on Fossil and Nuclear Fuels, Karl Boer, Pg 22.

Legacy of Waste: The High Cost of Nuclear Power.

Wind Energy Can Power Much of the East Coast – Oceana Study


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