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The new Thanet wind farm produces 300 MW of electricity, making it the world's largest offshore wind farm.  (Source: Vattenfall AB)
Nation now has 5 GW of installed wind capacity, enough to provide 4 percent of its power needs

In the United Kingdom today, excitement was afoot as the world's largest wind power installation went online.  The 300 MW farm was constructed by Swedish alternative energy firm Vattenfall AB.  It is located on the North Sea, on the east face of the island, approximately 2 hours east of the capital city of London.

England's Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Chris Huhne comments, "The U.K. is going to be the fastest-growing market for renewable energy anywhere for the next couple of years.  We will urge the wind industry to install 10 times more capacity by 2020. To this end, we are currently talking to General Electric and companies such as Siemens and Mitsubishi will play a part."

The nation aims to get 15 percent of its power from alternative energy by 2020.  With the latest addition the country now gets 4 percent of its power from wind.  Wind is arguably England's greatest alternative energy resource; as it is at a northern latitude it doesn't get quite as much direct sunlight, but its sea-bordered location makes for steady winds.

The new farm, located near the city of Thanet, the farm increases Britain's offshore wind total to 1,341 MW.  With its 3,715 megawatts of onshore wind, the nation now has over 5 GW of total wind power capacity -- enough to power an estimated 2.7 million homes.

The project is estimated to cost £800M (roughly $1.253B USD) according to Top News UK, or £900M (roughly $1.409B USD) according to Bloomberg.

The installation covers 35 km2 and consists of 100 Vestas Wind Systems A/S V90/3000 wind turbines.  The V90 is an example of the growing class of "super-turbines" designed for offshore use.  It generates 3 MW of power at peak and its blades span 90 meters.

Deploying offshore wind power is logistically tougher, as it requires you to install turbines at sea that can withstand ocean storms, and additionally to install undersea transmission cables.  However, it has the potential to generate more electricity than onshore installations, due to the stronger wind currents -- which in turn may lead to lower cost per kWh than tradition onshore turbines.

As opposed to the onshore wind power industry, which is dominated by established players, the offshore wind power industry is just now taking off.  The UK is working to position itself at the center of that new industry.

And early indications are that those efforts are yielding success; a number of companies -- General Electric Co., Siemens AG and Clipper Windpower Plc -- recently announced plans to build offshore wind turbine factories in the UK.  RenewableUK Chief Executive Officer Maria McCaffery comments, "The onshore wind supply chain is already well established in Germany, Denmark and Spain. Nobody has an onshore wind supply chain, and we want that to be here. U.K. manufacturing protects us totally from exchange-rate fluctuations."

The UK is aiming for 13 to 14 GW of installed onshore wind power capacity by 2020, as well.  It recently approved 32.200 GW in projects, giving licenses to Centrica Plc, RWE AG and Statoil ASA.

The U.S. is currently preparing similar offshore wind projects, but has seen construction and development delayed from lawsuits from a variety of groups including citizens who claim offshore turbines mar their view and damage property values; Native Americans; and environmental activists, who claim the turbines disrupt offshore wildlife.

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And one modern nuclear reactor can...
By tigz1218 on 9/23/2010 10:27:01 AM , Rating: 5
...produce about 5x the energy of this entire farm.

RE: And one modern nuclear reactor can...
By GreenEuropean on 9/23/10, Rating: -1
RE: And one modern nuclear reactor can...
By AssBall on 9/23/2010 11:08:08 AM , Rating: 2
Again, you disregard the energy waste in transfer and maintenance of an offshore wind farm. What you get at the outlet is not the same as what you produce 10 miles out into the ocean on a "OMG ITS NOT WINDY TODAY" day. Your figures are maximum lossless production.

The cost of a nuclear plant is artificially inflated by legislation.

The cost of a wind farm is artificially reduced by legislation.

Wind energy is a fine idea, but don't go skewing the costs and efficiencies with hand picked information.

RE: And one modern nuclear reactor can...
By GreenEuropean on 9/23/10, Rating: -1
RE: And one modern nuclear reactor can...
By AssBall on 9/23/10, Rating: 0
RE: And one modern nuclear reactor can...
By GreenEuropean on 9/23/2010 12:24:40 PM , Rating: 1
The transmission lines into shore is quite cheap. So I dont see your point. We already got endless amount of powercables below the sea for country to country connections.

RE: And one modern nuclear reactor can...
By AssBall on 9/23/2010 12:37:29 PM , Rating: 4
The point is you live in a country that is SEVEN times smaller than my state, which is only the tenth largest in the US. When you have population density and tax rates like Denmark, you can afford to be as inefficient as you like.

RE: And one modern nuclear reactor can...
By GreenEuropean on 9/23/10, Rating: -1
RE: And one modern nuclear reactor can...
By AssBall on 9/23/2010 1:03:46 PM , Rating: 2
New Yorkers have the distinction of not having to pay 25% tax. This gives them the option to NOT have to pay for 1GBit and artificially inflated energy costs.

I think they even have a word for it... oh yeah... "Freedom".

RE: And one modern nuclear reactor can...
By DrApop on 9/23/10, Rating: 0
By AssBall on 9/23/2010 1:47:42 PM , Rating: 4
You get the same run around in Europe too, so call it 70%?

RE: And one modern nuclear reactor can...
By clovell on 9/24/2010 3:53:11 PM , Rating: 1
What? It's always windy 10 miles offshore. I realize you're making a point, but there's no need to get hyperbolic about it.

By clovell on 9/27/2010 12:31:16 PM , Rating: 2
Rated down by the nuclear cheerleaders for making a perfectly valid point - get lives, people.

RE: And one modern nuclear reactor can...
By Schrag4 on 9/23/2010 1:05:43 PM , Rating: 2
Im not sayign we shouldnt have nuclear tho. I am in favour of a large mix of solar, wind, geothermal, wave, nuclear, bio etc. However nuclear should only be used as "backup".

Maybe, but for when the wind doesn't blow AND the sun doesn't shine, you need enough capacity from relatively constant energy sources like nuclear to power everything. So is the point of wind/solar to reduce the amount of nuclear fuel we use? Are we afraid we're going to run out of it? With reprocessing, is waste storage really an issue? Please enlighten me.

By cannonac on 9/24/2010 5:16:29 AM , Rating: 5
The UK had a really hard start to the year with temperatures as low as -15deg C (more than 10 degrees lower than normal for our winter). During that time, the wind farms in Britain produced 2% of their rated output. Not 20% or 30%, but 2%!

Average load capacity for wind farms in Britain is 30%. Average nuclear load capacity is over 80% (I don't have those figures to hand at the moment). The largest cost to a nuclear plant is the initial build (£4-5,000 million), each fuel load costs about £100million (this is a guess) and a plant the size of Sizewell B (our only PWR) produces over £1million worth of electricity per day! So you recoup the cost in about 15 years.

The new AP1000 and EPRs are designed to have a lifetime of 60 years. The profits will pay for decommissioning costs (just so you know, the industry had a decommisioning fund, but Gordon Brown raided it when he became chancellor!) and the plants are designed to be easy to decommission (this is part of the site license conditions from the NII).

Yes, there is the problem of the high level waste, but the high level waste generated by the industry to date will fill less than 10 olympic swimming pools. Intermediate waste is more volumous, but is easier to store.

The point I'm trying to make here is that nuclear is a reliable, safe source of base load power. Renewables have their place in reducing the carbon footprint, but they cannot be relied upon to generate just when we need the power.

By Zingam on 9/24/2010 1:12:19 AM , Rating: 2
There would be no need for nuclear power if all people were dead!

RE: And one modern nuclear reactor can...
By Aloonatic on 9/23/2010 10:54:13 AM , Rating: 2
Yes, but think of the terrrrooooorrrrr!!!!!

Seriously though, it seems that people in the UK are pretty much like people in the US (going by this site), i.e. can't understand why more reactors aren't being built.

There are a few problems though. Firstly, just to get a reactor through planning would take years. Secondly, British energy was sold off to the French (EDF) and I believe that they said that they were going to build more reactors at the time, but no sooner had the ink dried on the contract, they said, nahhhh, forget it.

I have no idea why they [the powers that be] find it so hard to see that nuclear is the only real way to go, or at least the best option for the core of power generation. I'm not sure how much supply/demand/pricing is a factor to be honest. If you build a couple of nuclear power stations and increase the potential capacity for generation, then will that have an affect on how much they can charge?

RE: And one modern nuclear reactor can...
By Dribble on 9/23/2010 11:11:30 AM , Rating: 2
Britain is starting to build a load of new nuclear reactors. Problem is it's a much smaller place then the USA which means density of people objecting to everything is even greater.

No one much cares what goes in the North Sea so wind is a good option there.

The other huge boom area believe it or not is solar. There's a silly guaranteed buy back rate for home produced solar power meaning companies are springing up effectively offering to install and run it for free.

The big fear in the UK is having to rely on Russia for natural gas, fortunately Norway is an alternative, but even so anything to drop gas usage is popular.

RE: And one modern nuclear reactor can...
By GreenEuropean on 9/23/2010 11:35:23 AM , Rating: 2
Being energy indenpendent is the best option ;)

Nobody really wish to depend on energy from others. Friends, neutrals or foes.

Saudi Arabia etc is molesting human rights and everything else. But nobody dares to say a word as along as we need the oil.

RE: And one modern nuclear reactor can...
By AssBall on 9/23/2010 12:21:37 PM , Rating: 2
Import from somewhere else if you have personal moral issues with Saudi Arabia.

Energy exports are the very basis for the economic livelihood of hundreds of countries globally. Being energy independent is not even feasible for hundreds more. If I can feed a starving african in exchange for some petroleum, that's a fair enough exchange.

RE: And one modern nuclear reactor can...
By GreenEuropean on 9/23/10, Rating: -1
By AssBall on 9/23/2010 12:55:36 PM , Rating: 2
Give me a break, Vestas makes almost all of the wind turbines in Wyoming, who by the way produce about one six of your entire countries wind energy (in TW-h). It's your job security too, Dude.

By Schrag4 on 9/23/2010 12:57:10 PM , Rating: 3
...while you seem to be all about starving Africans...


RE: And one modern nuclear reactor can...
By Aloonatic on 9/23/2010 12:11:36 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not sure that we have started to build anything yet. I might be wrong though of course. There are lots of plans though, but there are always plans. I'll believe that they are being built when I see it, or at least a bunch of hippies clinging on to heavy machinery as the work begins.

However, I haven't even heard the years of ranting by environmentalists on Radio 2 yet, which will almost certainly go along with the loooong, drawn out, planning permission phases as people get upset by the idea of another "Chernobyl" (or whatever other hysterical nonsense the media can whip up) being built near them.

By cannonac on 9/24/2010 5:19:52 AM , Rating: 2
No, we've not started to build anything yet. Planning applications have been submitted for a couple of sites (Hinkley and Sizewell? maybe) but there is nothing being built yet.

The GDA process (Generic Design Assessment) has to complete in June 2011 before the NII will grant licenses to begin the Pre-Construction phase of the build.

The current plan is to have the first EPR built and commissioned by 2018. I reckon 2020 is more realistic.

RE: And one modern nuclear reactor can...
By sleepeeg3 on 9/23/2010 3:02:27 PM , Rating: 5
No, one modern nuclear reactor produces about *12x* as much as this entire farm. This wind farm only produces 100MW (average 30% efficiency of wind) and each of Georgia's Vogtle nuclear reactors produces over 1200MW (total 2430MW).

This farm also costs nearly 4x as much as nuclear! ($1,300 million for 100MW of wind vs $367 million for 100MW of nuclear). That's not even factoring in the cost of replacing these turbines 3x as often (20 year lifespan vs 60+).

This wind farm also requires 35 SQUARE KILOMETERS of space! Compare that to the Vogtle power plants, which only take up a few acres.

So what happened to supporting nuclear, JM?

RE: And one modern nuclear reactor can...
By tigz1218 on 9/23/2010 4:19:03 PM , Rating: 2
Very good points, I did my math on the peak power output which occurs less than 10% of the time, and 30% is indeed the average. Thank you for correcting my math, and I completely agree with your logic. Wind power should only be a secondary source of power, while I believe the backbone should be nuclear.

By sleepeeg3 on 9/23/2010 10:28:58 PM , Rating: 2
Still right idea and it is understandable. The environmentalists hide the efficiency numbers and lifetime operating costs, because it destroys the credibility of wind. It is hard to find those statistics.

To be fair, nuclear's nameplate capacity is also slightly less - it is approximately 90%+ efficient. Vogtle plant claims around 91%.

RE: And one modern nuclear reactor can...
By FaaR on 9/23/10, Rating: -1
By Shatbot on 9/25/2010 4:15:33 AM , Rating: 1
Compare that to the 35 sq km x 24 farms = 840 square km of land

Of water you mean, I agree the whole issue of how much area a sea wind farm takes up doesn't really factor into the equation, unless you are talking about costs going between the turbines.

There's a whole lot of ocean. In England there isn't a lot of land.

RE: And one modern nuclear reactor can...
By iwanttobehef on 9/23/10, Rating: -1
By sleepeeg3 on 9/23/2010 10:21:21 PM , Rating: 2
Fine, you want to nitpick? I will give you 10 sq km for a nuclear plant, since I could not find any data on it. Compare that to the 35 sq km x 24 farms = 840 square km of land, 37-story wind turbines would have to occupy to output the same amount of power as the two reactors at the Vogtle plant. Does wind still make sense?

Nevermind those pesky cost issues...

RE: And one modern nuclear reactor can...
By cannonac on 9/24/2010 5:24:28 AM , Rating: 2
ROFL! 4 sq miles? Have you any idea how stupid that makes you sound?

Looking at Google maps, Sizewell B, Britain's most modern reactor, occupies a plot of land approximately 400x600m. Now, I'm a physicist, but even my maths can't make 400m x 600m into 10 sq km!

Now, where's that new keyboard...

RE: And one modern nuclear reactor can...
By iwanttobehef on 9/24/2010 1:40:20 PM , Rating: 1
Is there a reason every one must be so hostile? I only spoke to the plants I have physically been to. Lets look at one of the plants I have worked in. Lasalle county IL. Its cooling pond alone is 2058 acres more than 8 sq km. add in the plant itself and it looks like I was being conservative.
I understand this is wikipedia so here is a link to exelon corp saying it is on a 3055 acre site. or more than 12 sq km.

Now I did your homework why don't you study some more next time.

By Digimonkey on 9/24/2010 2:14:15 PM , Rating: 2
That cooling pond is also referred to as a Illinois state park and opened to the public for boating/fishing. So the land serves another purpose. Just like how you can have windmill farms and still farm the land around them. So actually this whole conversation is rather pointless.

By cannonac on 9/25/2010 8:32:26 AM , Rating: 2
Touchy aren't we?

All of the British plants (apart from Trawsfynydd) are located on the coast, so you could say that they occupy millions of acres, but I digress.

Anyway, I think I misunderstood you purely because we don't use cooling ponds. The only cooling ponds that we use are the fuel cooling ponds, and they are really quite small.

Sorry for the misunderstanding.

RE: And one modern nuclear reactor can...
By mars2k on 9/24/10, Rating: 0
By cannonac on 9/25/2010 8:34:32 AM , Rating: 2
Yes they do. I hate to burst your bubble, but this is all factored into the cost of the electricity that they produce. Until a few years ago, there was a very healthy fund in the UK for decommissioning costs.

Unfortunately, a certain chancellor of the exchequer decided that this money would be better suited to be spent on a few more quangos. So the decommissioning fund was lost. We are only now starting to build it up again.


RE: And one modern nuclear reactor can...
By WikiChici on 9/25/10, Rating: 0
By cannonac on 9/25/2010 8:41:33 AM , Rating: 3
Interesting that this has been brought up.

Chernobyl was a reactor design that would never be licensed in the West. For one thing it has a phenomena called positive power coefficient, which means that if the temperature of the coolant increases, then the power of the reactor also increases. Western reactors are all designed to operate with a negative power coefficient, so they are basically self regulating, to a certain extent.

In Chernobyl, the safety systems were turned off as part of a test (to improve safety, if you believe it) but the operators and the utility didn't really understand how the reactor was going to behave, again, something that wouldn't happen in the west.

So, with the buildup of reactivity (basically, stored power in the reactor), the positive power coefficient and the lack of training, plus control rods that took far too long to motor into the core, we get a multiplication of the power being produced. If I remember rightly, the power produced was 10,000x the rated power of the reactor for an instant.

This heated up the steam so it reacted with the fuel cladding which started to burn, burning the graphite core bricks and causing a steam explosion. There was no containment, so everything was ejected out of the core.


By kingius on 10/13/2010 4:13:50 AM , Rating: 2
Wind power generates free energy. It's a no brainer, even an idiot can understand this.

"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -- Isaac Asimov

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