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Protesters -- Native Americans and environmentalists -- have vowed to sue to try to stop the project after its government approval.   (Source: AP Photo/Julia Cumes)

Cape Wind will provide 468 MW of power at peak capacity. It will be fully operational by 2025 and will look somewhat like this plant -- the Nysted offshore wind farm off the coast of Denmark in the Baltic Sea   (Source: Cape Wind)

  (Source: Boston.com)
Much like with nuclear power environmental advocates find deaf ears in the Obama administration

While no wind resource can be viewed as continuous, off-shore wind tends to be more steady and stronger than land-based wind.  For that reason, off-shore wind is viewed as a very promising form of alternative energy.

It is also controversial.  Property owners hate for their water-front views to be marred by massive, spinning turbines.  Some criticize the wind-farms as too expensive compared to traditional fossil fuel power.  And some environmentalists complain that the farms disrupt shallow-water wildlife.

Despite a concerted effort by environmentalists and the Mashpee Wampanoag and Aquinnah Native American tribes, the federal government has approved the nation's first offshore wind farm.  Much like with the recent nuclear power debate, the pleas of environmental advocates fell on deaf ears with the Obama administration.  Yesterday, the farm was given the go-ahead by U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

At a joint State House news conference with Mass. Governor Deval Patrick, Salazar remarked, "This will be the first of many projects up and down the Atlantic coast.  I am convinced there is a path we can take forward that both honors our responsibility to protect historical and cultural resources and at the same time meets the need to repower our economy with clean energy produced from wind power."

Patrick chimed in, "America needs offshore wind power and with this project, Massachusetts will lead the nation."

The new farm will be built in the Nantucket Sound called Horseshoe Shoal .  It will consist of 130 turbines, each measuring 258-feet tall and producing up to 3.6 megawatts of power.  The total capacity will be approximately 468 megawatts at peak, with an average output of around 170 megawatts.

It is being constructed by Energy Management Inc. (EMI). EMI is a Massachusetts-based energy company.  An independent analyst firm Charles River Associates examined the project as says that it will likely cost $1B USD to $2B USD, but will be able to provide up to $185M USD yearly in power savings.

The government is helping EMI recoup the massive up front investment a bit faster with renewable energy tax credits available to consumers to discount the wind power.  The government will also be offering up $10M USD to help mitigate the impact the plant on local wildlife and on the Native American relics buried in the Shoal.  Still, the project is more independent from taxpayer funding than most.

Mass. Senator John F. Kerry, a former Democratic presidential candidate, cheered the news, stating, "I believe the future of wind power in the Massachusetts and the United States will be stronger knowing that the process was exhaustive, and that it was allowed to work and wind its way through the vetting at all levels with public input.  This is jobs and clean energy for Massachusetts."

The project is expected to provide 1,000 construction jobs over the next few years and create 150 permanent jobs.  It is expected to provide 20 percent of Massachusetts' electricity by 2025 and save over 5 million tons of carbon yearly.

Still the project faces a bit of a fight ahead.  The Native American and environmentalist groups who opposed the project have vowed to ban together and file lawsuits to try to derail the project.

States Audra Parker, president and chief executive of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, "While the Obama Administration today dealt a blow to all of us who care deeply about preserving our most precious natural treasures – this fight is not over.  Litigation remains the option of last resort. However, when the federal government is intent on trampling the rights of Native Americans and the people of Cape Cod, we must act."

Pat Parenteau, who teaches at Vermont Law School, says that the groups are unlikely to be able to obtain an injunction using federal laws like the Endangered Species Act and the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act.  The best they can do, he believes, is to delay the project's construction by a couple of years.

There are pending off-shore wind projects in Texas and Delaware, as well.



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RE: What a bunch of idiots...
By Yucker54 on 4/29/2010 10:29:10 AM , Rating: 3
I personally would much rather have this money invested in the nuclear energy...but why would anyone want to research/build/go for options that make more sense?


RE: What a bunch of idiots...
By barjebus on 4/29/2010 11:26:08 AM , Rating: 1
Assuming 36% efficiency (according to the article), and assuming a nuclear plant of 2 gigawatts achieves 90% uptime/efficiency, and assuming we're extremely generous and assume the plant will come in at the lower cost of 1 billion instead of 2 billion dollars:

2,000 mW / 170 = 11.76
11.76 * 1 billion dollars: 11.76 billion dollars to build an equivalent nuclear plant that provides stable, base load power.

Where I live we were recently planning on building a 2 gigawatt nuclear plant (in Canada) and the estimated cost was 6 billion. So that means that even if the plant construction costs were to DOUBLE, it would cost the same as this wind plant on a per megawatt basis, AND the wind plant still wouldn't be able to provide stable baseload. On top of that the number of people required to run a nuclear plant sounds similar to how many would be required to supervise and maintain an equally sized wind farm, as the article states that this site alone will employ 150 people permanently...so does that mean for 2 gigawatts of wind power, it would employ 1500 people???

Ridiculous. Why doesn't the government just set big chests of tax payer dollars on fire to appease the enviro's hmm? The tax payers are the ones paying for this, dont' you forget....who would be willing to pay double for their electricity?? The government will subsidize this project for years to come ensuring the projects owners become very rich men.


RE: What a bunch of idiots...
By Yucker54 on 4/29/10, Rating: -1
RE: What a bunch of idiots...
By mcnabney on 4/29/10, Rating: -1
RE: What a bunch of idiots...
By softbatch on 4/29/2010 1:04:30 PM , Rating: 3
Another fine example of a bad idea needing a massive amount of tax payer money to be commercially viable.

There Fixed


RE: What a bunch of idiots...
By mcnabney on 4/29/2010 1:21:45 PM , Rating: 2
It is actually a very good idea. But only if there are significant production facilities, guaranteed demand, and ideally more than one producer.

It really isn't all that different from mining a resource and shipping it a thousand miles. The rail infrastructure already exists, but the power lines don't.


RE: What a bunch of idiots...
By mcnabney on 4/29/2010 12:22:45 PM , Rating: 2
You don't really understand the industry. That $6B reactor is going to employ at least a thousand people directly and many more indirectly. Nuclear requires massive security, occupied land (wind farms are in active fields, boats and fish sail past turbines in the ocean), expensive fuel, many highly paid technicians, and massive oversight/expense. There is a nice wind farm in western Kansas that I drive by often. It has 155 turbines that are maintained by a team of 23 full and part-time employees. It generates between 200 and 300MW. The operating/maintenance costs of wind are a speck compared to nuclear. They cost a bit more to build per watt, but will pay for their contruction within a decade and are hugely profitable after that.


RE: What a bunch of idiots...
By Starcub on 4/29/2010 12:46:50 PM , Rating: 2
I was wondering if he was only looking at construction costs, if so then it seems that alternatives might be in order. Even if Canada doesn't have the political hurdles in that nuclear faces in the US, fuel, operation and maintenance, and waste and decommisioning costs will still be significantly greater than capital costs. While capital cost might be higher with most clean renewables, those other costs are usually far lower.


RE: What a bunch of idiots...
By mcnabney on 4/29/2010 1:25:55 PM , Rating: 1
Wind turbines also have the benefit of being almost 100% recyclable - so a great deal of their cost (steel and copper) will be reused when the device is retired.

And wind's contruction is favorable to nuclear. The advantage of nuclear is that they can be built near cities while wind should really only go where there it is most efficient.


RE: What a bunch of idiots...
By Solandri on 4/29/2010 3:48:37 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
You don't really understand the industry. That $6B reactor is going to employ at least a thousand people directly and many more indirectly. Nuclear requires massive security, occupied land (wind farms are in active fields, boats and fish sail past turbines in the ocean), expensive fuel, many highly paid technicians, and massive oversight/expense. There is a nice wind farm in western Kansas that I drive by often. It has 155 turbines that are maintained by a team of 23 full and part-time employees. It generates between 200 and 300MW. The operating/maintenance costs of wind are a speck compared to nuclear.

I'm not sure where you're getting you're figures from.
http://www.iea.org/textbase/nppdf/free/2005/ElecCo...

Globally, nuclear's operation and maintenance costs work out to less than $10 per MWh, less than 1 cent per kWh (vs. an average retail electricity cost of 11 cents per kWh). (Figs 3.8, 3.9, 3.10) Total generation costs for nuclear including construction, O&M, and fuel are about $30-$55 per MWh (3-5.5 cents per kWh).

Wind's O&M costs are lower, but not by much. About $5-$10 per MWh. The initial investment cost is a lot higher than for nuclear, pushing overall costs to about $40-$70 per MWh. (Figs 4.3, 4.4. Note that the U.S. estimated costs for wind are lower because the U.S. amortizes wind farm equipment over an estimated lifetime of 40 years. The rest of the world uses 20 or 25 years.)

This may not seem to make a lot of sense considering what a major undertaking it is to construct a nuclear power plant. But you have to keep in mind that nuclear produces an enormous amount of energy for the volume of materials used. That $6 billion nuclear reactor is putting out 1000 MW of average output. It can do this 24 hours a day if needed. The 250 MW capacity you cite for the Kansas wind farm is the peak output. If you use the same ratio of peak to average as for the Cape Cod project, those 155 turbines are only putting out 91 MW average. To equal the average output of the $6B reactor, you'd need 1700 turbines and a corresponding increase in the amount of space and number of employees.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smoky_Hills_Wind_Farm

I should also point out that contrary to most people's expectations, wind is also more dangerous than nuclear. There have already been about a dozen deaths in the U.S. associated with wind power despite its minuscule contribution to the country's electricity generation. Nuclear provides about 20% of our electricity and has had zero fatalities in ~50 years of commercial electricity production. This is one statistic where nuclear's over-regulation helps.

http://www.wind-works.org/articles/BreathLife.html

The wind power industry is young and I'm sure costs will drop and safety improve as we learn more about utilizing it. But don't try to sugar-coat it just because you like wind and dislike nuclear. It still has a lot of development and efficiency goals to reach before it'll be cheaper than nuclear. And given its intermittent nature, I doubt it'll ever contribute >25% of our electricity. Primary power generation has to come from another more reliable source, and right now it looks like nuclear is the top contender for that role.


RE: What a bunch of idiots...
By FITCamaro on 4/29/2010 11:39:34 PM , Rating: 2
I'd like to know how much of the expense of building a nuclear plant is caused by the red tape of trying to build one.

Very good post though. I don't want my power only to work on windy days. Wind will never be stable. Solar will never be stable. Nuclear is and it leads to fusion. And it doesn't need government subsidies to be cheap for the consumer. Probably why libs hate it so much.


RE: What a bunch of idiots...
By AssBall on 4/30/2010 10:21:48 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
And it doesn't need government subsidies to be cheap for the consumer.


It needs expensive regulation and lots of misinformation to be expensive for the consumer. :/


RE: What a bunch of idiots...
By RamarC on 4/29/2010 4:03:54 PM , Rating: 2
progress energy has two nukes in the planning stage for florida. the estimated cost is $15B and rising and construction won't even begin until 2015. they may go online in 2020. so comparatively speaking, a $1B wind farm isn't really that expensive.


RE: What a bunch of idiots...
By Keeir on 4/30/2010 6:35:24 PM , Rating: 2
Not be snide, but I think you missed alot of the point.

The Florida installation will be 2, 1,000+ NW reactors. Actual build cost is estimated ~7.65 billion. The remaining balance in the land, certification works, and -interest- from spending large amount of upfrount money on loans. A situation made worse by the NRCs decision to ensure that even excavation can not begin until the entire project undergoes years worth of government review.

Likley the 1-2 billion figure mentioned is -just- the build cost associated with the wind mill farm project, and not the -total- cost which would be incurred by an enitrely private entity attempting to build on pre-purchased land.

Disregarding that, a wind farm would need to be 11x larger than the one proposed to match the output of the Levy Nuclear Plant. 11 billion to 22 billion doesn't sound that cheery anymore. (Just to note, based on .15 cents per kWh used when estimating the return for the Wind Farm, the Nuclear Plant would generate ~2.6 billion dollars of electricity a year)


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