One of the firms participating in the London Array project, under which the world's biggest offshore wind farm would be built in the outer Thames Estuary, has questioned the scheme's economic viability. The Financial Times reported at the weekend that Paul Golby, chief executive of E.ON UK - which owns 30 per cent of the Array …
"more than double what it costs to build nuclear stations"
The cost you mention -- does that include the cost of cleaning up afterwards? Not cheap, as the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority will confirm. In fact so not-cheap that the industry themselves try their hardest to lose their responsibility for it.
Also the 90% availability for nukes is a bit dubious. 90% may be a planned goal, reality to date says otherwise.
But Mr Green...
EcoVeg Customer Services...How may I be of assistance? You just received your bill? But Mr Green, when you told us we should be using wind power, solar power, wave power, we said it would cost ten times as much and we assumed you were happy with that. Hello? Hello? Mr Green? Operator??
Finally, a set of figures...
that even the lentil-munchers can comprehend...
"estimating the cost of offshore capacity at £3m per megawatt, more than double what it costs to build nuclear stations"
"The cost of the electricity produced is even worse than this figure indicates; wind farms' average output over time is around 30 per cent of their capacity, whereas nuclear stations typically run at 90 per cent. Thus, it costs more than six times as much to build a given level of power production using windfarms as it does using nuclear"
just how much clearer does it have to be?
"Thames windfarm execs: We need more subsidy"
You need to be FIRED!
Think of the money we'd save.
The Reg is off by 25%
"The cost of the electricity produced is even worse than this figure indicates; wind farms' average output over time is around 30 per cent of their capacity, whereas nuclear stations typically run at 90 per cent. Thus, it costs more than six times as much to build a given level of power production using windfarms as it does using nuclear."
The original article in the FT:
"The comparison is made even worse because offshore turbines might generate power for about 40 per cent of the time, whereas modern nuclear stations operate at about 90 per cent of capacity."
Interesting error, is The Reg campaigning for nuclear?
Needs more numbers
We need to know the total, all-inclusive cost per megawatt-year that includes building the facility, maintaining it, fuel, decommissioning, everything. "£3m per megawatt" isn't useful.
Stuff wind. If you want power from the Thames, convert the Thames Barrier to be a great big tidal generator. So a few home will get flooded out? That's always been a cost associated with water-based generation....
Monuments to the stupid
I am sick of hearing how many homes these damn things power, when domestic use is only a fraction of the total electricity. It's a scam, a sham, and we are paying for these useless propellers on sticks.
Do the calc with $200 a barrel
Do the calculation with oil priced at 200 splurges* a barrel. Since the oil price is driven by demand and the only reason it's low now is because demand is low as we enter a recession, as soon as we come out of it, it will shoot up in price again.
* $200 a barrel using the buying equivalent of 2007 US$. The Gulf states are unifying their currency (effectively decoupling themselves from the US printing press) I assume the Petrodollar will end and so oil won't be priced in US$ in a few years time, but if you imagine what a 2007 $200 would buy and whatever it oil is priced in then, it would be similar purchasing power.
Hamster wheels in prison
We have 80000 feckless prisoners doing nothing but eating economy burgers and watching daytime TV. Get them on hamster wheels generating our energy for us.
The we can have 3 power types, Ethical, Un-Ethical and Revenge!
re: "more than double what it costs to build nuclear stations"
Because there's a lot of subsidy for nuclear stations.
The US considered dropping subsidies on nuclear power. The nuclear industry said that if this happened, it would not be financially viable to build any more nuclear power stations and the idea must be dropped.
@The Reg is off by 25%
Recent duty cycle figure for Scottish windfarms is 26.9% - 30% is a bit generous.
When a newspaper says "might" it is because it doesn't know.
Some nuclear generators are now about $1M/MW.
Fiddling whilst Rome burns...
Thanks to the European free market in natural gas, and political/business dispute in eastern Europe, our national winter reserves are at the lowest level for several years. We may not import gas from Russia, but for three weeks we were exporting it to Europe as fast as week could pump it. If we see another cold spell like we did two weeks ago, we could yet see power cuts.
Regardless of the global energy situation, the UK is rapidly running out of fossil fuel, and given the hopeless state of our national finances, we will find it very expensive to be importing 80% of our energy in a few years time. We need all the indigenous energy we can get, and for all it's faults, wind power is cheap and quick to install, cheap to run and almost free to decommission. Recent worldwide experience with running and building nuclear is that they are prone to huge cost overruns and delivery delays, and our existing fleet is lucky to get 60% of boilerplate capacity. I'm not saying all nuclear is bad, but right now we need to be building as much capacity of both as fast as we can because ten years from now we will be grateful for every watt, at ten times the price (which is probably what it will cost us).
Chilly of Hampshire
Average household "This includes heating, hot water and other energy consumption which in most British homes today is done using gas or heating oil."
If only.. sob sob... had to pull out our heating oil system as it was screwed and the tank was leaking... been looking at automated wood pellet burner but at circa £5-10k compared to about £1-2k for a new oil system the costs dont stack...
If the government were really into reducing dependency on foreign imports(*) they could certainly try a little harder and be a little more generous on their grants and not have a pre-req that you have to produce an ankle biter to get any assistance!
*Noted that wood pellets tend to come from Scandinavian countries
How's this for an idea...
They're building these things offshore because people don't want them in their fields.
I suspect that if you gave a tiny fraction of the difference in cost to the field owners they'd be falling over themselves to get them installed.
PS: The cost of building them is actually much worse because electricity has to be transported around (think big copper wires). The closer a windmill is to the consumers of its output, the less this costs.
@ the reg is off by 25%
output over time is around 30 per cent of their capacity,
The original article in the FT:
about 40 per cent of the time,
Interesting error, is The Reg campaigning for nuclear?"
no the figger could be about 35% and both would be right part of the problem with this debate is the numbers are being spun form base and therefor the data is inherently unrelible you can get higher/ lower figgers by including/excluding all sorts of types (test reactors, mini plants etc)
"wind farms' average output over time is around 30 per cent of their capacity"
"offshore turbines might generate power for about 40 per cent of the time"
You say "Interesting error", but there is no error there. The figures are not measures of the same thing.
Average output over time for windfarms generally and percentage of time which OFFSHORE windfarms might generate are different measures in two ways. The first is a known measure of what has been achieved by existing windfarms on land and the second is an estimate of what "might" be achieved offshore. Also the power output over time as a percentage of theoretical capacity is not the same as the amount of time that an installation might generate power. For much of the time that a windmill is generating power, its output will be low, because of wind speed variations, so it will not be at 100% of capacity for the 40% of the time that it is generating some power.
Nuclear is obviously the way to go. Ask France, who are now benefiting from their early shift to nuclear.. They know how to get the things built over there too. The UK government refuses to bribe nimbys or even adequately compensate them when their homes and property values are impacted by new roads, airports or power stations, but the French just stuff the mouths with coin and get on with it. People near nuclear power stations get discount electricity, for one thing.
Some more realistic numbers...
If you want some figures on generation costs that have been thought out properly, take a look at the PB power report " Summary Report: Powering The Nation - A Review Of The Costs Of Generating Electricity" at http://www.pbworld.co.uk/media.php?file=452 or the updated figures in the presentation at:
http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/stamp/stamp.jsp?arnumber=4665364&isnumber=4665359 (if you have access to journals etc.)
The most recent figures show offshore wind @ ~10p/kWh vs. nuclear ~4p/kWh.
we could do what just about every other Euro country is doing and burn a large proportion of our rubbish - but that is apparently less fun than washing it and grading it and wearing your dungarees
@AC of Hampshire on wood pellets
More and more pellet plants are coming online in the UK, but as the engineering manager of several (and biomass CHP plants too), I can say that getting them online is an incredibly difficult and frustrating exercise in dealing with UK planning law, official apathy and obstruction, not to mention local opposition.
But what subsidy does fossil fuel get ?
Quite a lot it would seem from those who suffer from the floods, droughts and hurricanes caused by the climatic effects. And those who pay insurance premiums against such increased risks. But why should I care when I drive my gas guzzling 4x4 to the airport for my weekend away if my tabloid says I shouldn't and the cost of my extravagance is picked up by someone else ? And these costs will be trivial compared to a 10m sea level rise. Would the nimbies who don't want wind generators cluttering their skyline or sea view prefer climate refugee camps next door instead ?
It's high time to tax airline, power generation and central heating fossil fuel to cover some of these externalised costs. Then we won't have to subsidise wind, solar and tidal.
re:"more than double what it costs to build nuclear stations"
"The cost you mention -- does that include the cost of cleaning up afterwards? Not cheap, as the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority will confirm. In fact so not-cheap that the industry themselves try their hardest to lose their responsibility for it."
I belev the article said somthing like "build running and decommissioning cost" so yes clean up is included in decommissioning I used to work in a planning section of a decommissioning nuclear plant so I know dam well it dose
Pro Encon Anti Bullsh*t
I'm impressed that claims of 30% efficiency are being made in this debate. Germany - Which has easily the largest wind-generation plant in the world - recorded approx. 17% of rated capacity in the last full reporting year.
The uncomfortable truth is that wind power is a poor contributor to the energy mix and is likely to remain so. The public continues to be mislead by vested interests (including the 'Green' movement) fully aware of the general public's poor understanding of physics and engineering.
>The most recent figures show offshore wind @ ~10p/kWh vs. nuclear ~4p/kWh
Excluding the cost of processing, reprocessing, mining and shipping of fuel, security, waste disposal, reactor replacement or decommissioning and any accidents.
Nuclear actually costs ~8-10p/kWh once you look at the "industry" as a whole and that still excludes long term waste disposal (recently tripled from the estimated price), accidents and security, which government, or rather, the tax payer, picks up.
Now adjust figures for the price of fuel going up exponentially as demand increases and people realise that we're probably closer to "peak uranium" than we are to "peak oil", and that no-one is building breeder reactors, leaving us with maybe 20 years of "cheap" fuel at most. Going nuclear now is about as clever as Paris Hilton appears to be (unless we build breeders, or get fusion to work of course).
It's bad enough that depending on location windfarms will run on a long term average of well under 50% of capacity. However the worst thing about them is that they pay no attention to demand.
And of course nuclear facilities take a long time to fire up. I'm sick of hearing that a nuclear generating infrastructure would require a fossil fuelled backup to deal with surges in demand. As an argument against nuclear power it's a little weak.
It appears that, in the UK at least, too many eggs have been put in the wind power basket. And now those eggs have hatched it seems that the chickens are coming home to roost. (Sorry, sorry, sorry!)
If we are to take sustainable generation seriously then we need to put our eggs in as many baskets as possible. Pumped storage is one solution to surges in demand, but such schemes are horribly expensive and the geography of the UK leaves us with a limitted number of potential sites. And as a backup to wind power it is somewhat flawed, you could be without wind for days on end in midwinter when demand is high. How long could pumped storage deliver at full capacity?
We need as many baskets as possible. How much power could be generated from tidal schemes? As a natural resource the tidal surge in the Bristol Channel must be worth a fair bit. Wave power? Some parts of our coast take a jpretty good hammering at times. What about geothermal resources? Could cables from Iceland to mainland Europe sort out Iceland's economic woes?
It's a big picture and the biggest issue is that nobody has truly studied the potential environmental impact of sustainable generation. For example, I'be heard it suggested that we use ocean currents to generate power. Jolly good, but how would you do that, and how would it effect the currents themselves. You wouldn't want to stop the gulf stream, the west coast of europe and the UK in particular would get a lot colder if you did.
Your whole thesis is based on the "Inconvenient Truth" which has been comprehensibly debunked, even in it's own terms. In fact the "global warming" myth itself is starting to fall apart, as more real science is done and the observations show that the warming scenarios and the computer projections thereof are founded on multiple basic errors, some of them apparently deliberate.
The Russians have even gone back to warning about an imminent new ice age, a panic western climate gurus abandoned in the 70's (there was no way to blame it on humans).
'Thus, it costs more than six times as much to build a given level of power production using windfarms as it does using nuclear.'
Not true. If there is no wind blowing (as is frequently the case) then windfarms produce absolutely zero electricity, so there has to be a 100% back-up system running all the time!
This is why windfarms are such a complete nonsense and why nuclear power is the only sensible route to go down.
The numbers are at http://www.withouthotair.com/
The book can be downloaded for free. It was written by Professor MacKay from Cambridge university. It presents figures for calculating the cost energy supply based on your own mix of wind, geothermal, wave and nuclear power plants. The proper numbers are there for rocket scientists, as are clear explanations for anyone with enough brains to use a calculator.
Rave and rant all you like, but if you do not include the numbers and where you found them then you are just another commentard spewing twat-o-tron fodder.
"that even the lentil-munchers can comprehend..."
Thats the sort of comment expected from a closed minded propaganda parrot. Come on, grow up and learn to have a reasoned debate.
One thing the article doesn't touch on is the decommissioning costs, which for Nuclear is billions. For a wind farm I would expect this to be neligible in comparison. Wind farms also have no waste to dispose of, which is also quietly left out of any argument involving nuclear.
I buy my power from Ecotricity, and the bills are no more expensive than from anywhere else thank you.
I think the greens, including MPs, basically don't understand how power generation has to match demand. They think of it like mains water; it's just there when you turn on the tap. They don't realise that there is no equivalent of a reservoir, and that the whole system has to be adjusted constantly to keep load and supply matched. They also have no idea how much power is dissipated in transmission lines when they site these projects far from the point of use.
The numbers are at withouthotair, but often wrong
Prof MacKay is a very talented prose writer, a good academic in the field of information theory (lots there to keep our neural-network fans entertained), and a vociferous nuclear lobbyist.
However, he's no energy strategist, and many of his numbers are wrong.
If you want the real numbers, go to the peer-reviewed energy literature. Yes, it's harder work, because few writers are as fluent as Professor MacKay, and the papers aren't always available at zero cost unless you've got a Shibboleth or Athens login, but at least you'll be looking at some more reliable numbers.
Rob Gross & Phil Heptonstall on wind & intermittency. Graham Sinden on how rarely the country has no wind turbines generating at all, or on how much burning of fossil fuels wind turbines save. Michael Grubb on wind and the amount of fossil capacity displaced. And so on.
Or ask the Finns about their £3m/MW (and rising) construction costs for their new nuclear with the cracked welds. Have a look at Chernobyl and ask what would have happened if, instead of it being in a predominantly uninhabited wasteland, it had been in Britain. Pick a spot on a map of England in Wales, draw a 150km radius circle around it, and think about the consequences of rendering that area a deathzone.
No wonder the nuclear industry won't build new nukes, and won't decommission old ones, unless we the public agree to pay for any and all costs of accidents or disasters. It's quite impossible for nuclear to be competitive, once all costs are included, because meltdown is uninsurable.
@Anonymous Coward 26th Jan 17:48
"One thing the article doesn't touch on is the decommissioning costs"
But it does. They are included in the costs quoted, as a later para makes clear: "To be sure, nuclear plants need fuel and windfarms don't - but fuel costs are a very small proportion of what it costs to make nuclear energy. Most of the price goes on building, running and ultimately decommissioning the plant, and on storing wastes."
"which for Nuclear is billions"
Only if you let the greens get away with objecting to every possible way of dealing with waste, and demonizing it as much more dangerous than it is. Sensible measures for confining the most radioactive waste in underground storage facilities are not ruinously expensive, and the rest is much less dangerous than the greens make out.
"I buy my power from Ecotricity, and the bills are no more expensive than from anywhere else thank you."
Odd, as the electricity supply deals I look at when I am on price comparison sites are often very different. The cheapest are not always the same companies, but I have never found an all-green supplier amongst the best offers.
All electricity supply companies are being forced by the government to buy "renewable" sourced electricity to make up 20% of what they supply. This is a subsidy to the wind power industry that the government has dodged having to pay for. The electricity suppliers have to buy it regardless of price, and pass on the extra cost directly to their customers.
The numbers game
Lots of numbers spouted back and forth, but any engineer will know there are a fair few assumptions in all these calculations, so any figures that are produced are subject to this. Personally I think the wind generation is a white elephant, although the cost little to decommission they still require extensive maintenance, particularly when hit by UFOs. And the Chernobyl reference is frankly asinine, that disaster was argument against communist incompetence rather than against nuclear power.
Despite this, the energy security issue is more important the the eco issue. Currently Britain (or England, if the union breaks up) is beholden to some very unsavoury regimes for both uranium and fossil fuel supplies, and this has to change.
Mines the one with the list of assumptions in the pocket.
Anonymous Coward Posted Monday 26th January 2009 17:48 GMT
"One thing the article doesn't touch on is the decommissioning costs"
Yes it does. It's there. In the article. If you're just going to make stuff up at least read the article you're making stuff up about so you don't end up looking like an idiot!
Words fail me, slap bang in the middle of the article it talks about decommissioning costs so how the hell you can come in and make the statement that it doesn't God only knows.
""which for Nuclear is billions"
Only if you let the greens get away with objecting to every possible way of dealing with waste, and demonizing it as much more dangerous than it is. "
Which is rather like the pro-nuclear lobby when they lob stones at the Windfarms:
"Oh, what if the wind stops!!!!"
"Oh noes! The little burdies are killed!!!!"
"What about the cost of producing these turbines? You figured on that?!?!??!"
"Personally I think the wind generation is a white elephant"
Doesn't mean it isn't.
I personally think that nuclear fission is a white elephant (and a glow-in-the-dark one at that).
So those who don't want wind power don't invest in making them.
Those who don't want nuclear power don't invest in making them.
And either subsidise both equally (ask how much it would cost to insure a nuclear power station, Alex, that's part of the costs that isn't included) or neither.
"Which is rather like the pro-nuclear lobby when they lob stones at the Windfarms:
"Oh, what if the wind stops!!!!"
"Oh noes! The little burdies are killed!!!!"
"What about the cost of producing these turbines? You figured on that?!?!??!""
well lets look at that in revers order
insisting on acturate costs is just us lvling the playong feild you insisint on cost of decom and building for nuclur we insint on cost of building turbines
personley I could not give a dam about birds but if you say nuclur wast mutates fish we say that turbines kill birds again we are just levling the arguments
and the fact that wind turbines do not work when there is not wind is not a small problem it is in fact a MAJOR problem and should not be ignored just like you clame that waste is all we are insinting is that when you bad mouth nucleur power we get to bad mouth wind
I think we could generate a few MWh if we tapped the enormous reserves of smugness in the can't deal with peaks and troughs crew. We aren't totally devoid of ways to store energy you know?
In a worst case scenario where you've run out of hills to pump it up you can crack a bit of seawater into hydrogen but there are surely other ways? let's have a think eh? How about houses and factories with their own flywheels and/or ultracapacitors to provide efficient distributed load balancing? Might that help? Might that have other upsides in terms of facilitating efficient personal/local generation?
If you wanted to invest a little thought you might try and come up with some constructive ideas yourselves but clearly you're having too much fun putting the boot in to the one group in society that ranks lower than the even the nerds i.e. the hippies. Well well done big men, thanks for helping sort this all out, I'll see you and the truckers in the 2020 uranium price protests eh.
didn't say anything about whether the sides were right or wrong.
Just that this complaint can be levelled at the pro-nuke lobby.
Try reading what's written, not what you hope's there.
"Also the 90% availability for nukes is a bit dubious. 90% may be a planned goal, reality to date says otherwise." - At the moment, modern PWRs in the US, France and Russia are doing about 98%. After Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, availability fell dramatically, but this was really more a political issue (once a plant went down it was hard to bring it back up), and seems to have vanished.
On the Finnish plant
"Or ask the Finns about their £3m/MW (and rising) construction costs for their new nuclear with the cracked welds." - That is the first build of an entirely new model, and overruns were always expected to an extent. Projects elsewhere in the world are going rather better.
"personley I could not give a dam about birds but if you say nuclur wast mutates fish we say that turbines kill birds again we are just levling the arguments" - No you're not. No evidence that nuclear waste kills fish, wind turbines certainly do kill birds but not to a very interesting extent.
"Well well done big men, thanks for helping sort this all out, I'll see you and the truckers in the 2020 uranium price protests eh." - The cost of uranium is a ridiculously small fraction of the cost of nuclear power; even if it were necessary to extract uranium from seawater, that would be expected to entail cost rises of 1 cent per kWh at most.
Re: The numbers are at withouthotair, but often wrong
I've had a quick look at some of Mackay's figures, and while not precise (or intended to be) they do seem to be founded on reasonable assumptions. Obviously I could easily have missed something. Could you (or someone of similar mind) be more specific about which of his numbers are wrong, and why?
All Costs Included
In the US, nuclear plants continually pay fees, per kW-hr generated, into trust funds that fully cover the costs of plant decommissioning (to greenfield), and all waste management, processing and final disposal costs. This is required by law. These trust funds are continually monitored and audited to ensure that they will be adequate to cover all these future costs. Several plants have been decommissioned in the US already, and all of those projects were fully funded by the utilities. Taxpayers never paid anything. US taxpayers also have not, and will not pay any of the costs of final waste disposal in the US (in fact, the govt. has, and will, take more in than it will pay out for the program).
While this has always been true of US plants, it wasn't true for the current generation of British plants. It will be true, however, for the next generation of British plants. The British govt. has made this very clear. Not only will all plant decommissioning and waste management costs be fully paid for by the plant owners, but new nuclear plants will not recieve subsidies of any other kind either. Despite the absence of subsidies, industry is rushing into Britain, on its own, to build several new nuclear plants. In any system where CO2 emissions are limited, nuclear will not need any subsidies to compete.
Nuclear must pay all costs associated with returning the plant site to greenfield. They must also pay the full cost of ensuring that its waste products will remain contained for as long as they remain hazardous. No other major industry (or energy source) is required to do this. Nuclear waste is NOT unique in terms of long term hazard. The only thing that is unique is the (guaranteed containment) requirement, which is only applied to nuclear. Waste streams from many other industries actually represent a much larger long-term hazard. They're just not required to do anything about it.
Nuclear Power's External Costs
While fossil fuel power plants cause 25,000 deaths ANNUALLY in the US alone (hundreds of thousands worldwide), Western nuclear plants have never killed a member of the public and have never had any measurable health impact. Fossil fuel plants in Britain cause more deaths ANNUALLY, than would result from the worst concievable accident or attack on a new British nuclear plant. The worst possible release from a modern plant would not cause any significant amount of land area to have radiation levels above the natural range.
Even nuclear critics acknowledge that the effective subsidy from limited liability (Price Anderson) is only ~0.05 to 0.5 cents/kW-hr (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Price-Anderson_Nuclear_Industries_Indemnity_Act#cite_note-SIEPR-1). Meanwhile, fossil plants get to pollute the environment, continually, for free, causing more deaths annually than a severe nuclear accident (expected to occur at most every ~1000 years) would. Given this, it is obvious that the unpaid, external costs for fossil fuels are orders of magnitude higher than any associated with nuclear. Scientific studies confirm this. Analyses that quantify (in economic terms) the total external costs (i.e., the negative environmental and public health impacts/risks) of various energy sources show that nuclear's overall external costs are less than ~0.5 cents/kW-hr; similar to those of renewables. Coal and oil, on the other hand, have huge external costs (4-8 cents/kW-hr); enough to double their price. One example of such scientific studies is the European Commission's ExternE project (www.externe.info/).
If all external costs were accounted for with each energy source, as some commenters have suggested, nuclear would not suffer. Fossil fuels would suffer greatly. The competition between renewables and nuclear would not be measurably impacted, since they have similar (and very small) external costs.
Finally, long-term uranium supply is simply not an issue, and nobody is worried about it. Uranium is a ubiquitous element in the earth's crust that we've barely started looking for. Known reserves are a tiny fraction of what will be discovered in the future. Even known/probably reserves are enough to last over 100 years. The fact is that, even with no reprocessing or breeding, and even with a large increase in the use of nuclear power, we will have enough uranium to last for centuries. This is more than enough time to develop breeders, fusion, renewables, or some other set of inexhaustible sources. I talk more about this at http://www.americanenergyindependence.com/uranium.html.
re: All Costs Included
Except the cost of insurance.
using up urainum
even if we do use up all the stuff in the earth crust in 200 years it is a element and when used in nuclear has a incurable energy density we can go look for it in space
re: using up uranium
And without a power source, how do we get uranium from outer space?
GM Space Frogs?