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What I worry about is the cost of offshore wind. According to a recent article Vattenfall is near completion of its offshore wind farm Thanet, off the coast of Kent.

It will produce 1 TWh per year (biggest in the world). It costed 9 billion kronor (SEK) to build. In comparison, the new Finnish reactor will produce 13 TWh, and if it was an offshore wind farm it would hence cost 9*13=117 billion kronor. It was budgeted to cost 25-30 billion, and even with the current 100 % cost overrun, it will still only cost half as much as the Thanet offshore wind farm, if Thanet was constructed to have the same annual output.

Sure, the variable costs for the nuclear station might well be higher than for Thanet, but not by that much. So this is certainly a problem, in my opinion.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Thu May 20th, 2010 at 09:25:59 AM EST
offshore wind probably costs double what (reaonably well-run) nuclear costs today, on a per MWh basis.

But it will still cost the same in 20 years (or probably much less, as economies of scale kick in and operating costs go down some more), and requires no cooling water, no mining of uranium in far away places, no costly decommissioning, and no waste to store.

It's not an unreasonable trade off. Both are needed.

Wind power

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu May 20th, 2010 at 11:14:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Lifecycle Cost is becoming a more important metric in many areas, but the media still don't get it. LCC is a social metric. It can include not only end-of-life disposal, but also safety factors such as loss of life (e.g. coal mining), employment, risk of catastrophe etc.

The LCC for wind power, as you point out, must be one of the lowest per MWh of any energy source, except hydro and maybe wave power.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Thu May 20th, 2010 at 12:25:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I meant to add that offshore wind should be using the LCC cost benefits more forcefully in arguments in favour.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Thu May 20th, 2010 at 12:27:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Life cycle costing has been used in renewables for decades, and is widely accepted.  The problem comes in determining how to include externalities, and what do they actually cost.  For example, what (roughly? exactly?) is the cost of a coal miner's life?  What is the cost of a gulf or two?  What are the long term costs of isotope storage, factoring in the cost of capital over a few millenia, give or take.

Thus it always comes down to the politics.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Thu May 20th, 2010 at 12:45:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
For example, what (roughly? exactly?) is the cost of a coal miner's life?  What is the cost of a gulf or two?  What are the long term costs of isotope storage, factoring in the cost of capital over a few millenia, give or take.

Thus it always comes down to the politics.

Ultimately we can only estimate, however that has benefits.

Why not require that companies engaged in harmful resource extraction like this be required to contribute 2.5% of revenues towards a compensation fund?

  1. This would billions to cover the costs created externalities from operations.

  2. Some portion could be used to fund the development of alternatives, including loan guarantees for renewables, etc.


And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg
by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Thu May 20th, 2010 at 01:03:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It may be accepted in the industry, but my general review of media and politics is that the point is not made strongly enough to voters. How to do this is another matter; but to me it seems it should be an easy sell. The benefits are clear.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Thu May 20th, 2010 at 01:51:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is actually somewhat worse than that, since the engineering lifespan of a openwater windmill is about 20 years, and the EPR is built to last 60, so you have to count in rebuilding the windfarm twice.. This is not a tripling of relative cost, as you need to apply the discount rate to the second and third build, but it does matter, and while life cycle accounting helps when comparing costs with coal (which has externalities that makes building it effectively criminal) it does not help when comparing costs to nuclear, since nuclear was the first energy industry to get its life cycle costs internalized.
by Thomas on Thu May 20th, 2010 at 06:01:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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