Monday, March 31, 2008

The Real Cost of Wind Power

I've just caught up with Christopher Booker's Sunday Telegraph column from a week ago - yes, I know I'm a bit slow - but it demonstrates what I have always thought about wind power. It's a complete waste of money. It may make environmentalists all warm inside but it's costing the rest of us a pretty packet in subsidies, to say nothing of the visual pollution the giant wind turbines cause. Here's Booker's piece in full...
A further huge question mark has been raised over the Government's plan to build 7,000 offshore wind turbines round Britain's coasts, to help meet its EU target of 15 percent of our electricity from รข renewables' by 2020. The director of renewable generation for Centrica, our largest windfarm developer, last week revealed that the cost of this plan to create 33,000 megawatts (MW) of capacity has doubled in three years, from £40 billion to £80 billion. But since, thanks to fluctuations in the wind, offshore turbines generate on average only 27.5 per cent of capacity, the actual power produced by these turbines would be only 9,000MW, putting its price at £8.8 million per MW. The latest nuclear power station being built in Finland at a cost of £2.7 billion will produce 1600MW, 24 hours a day, representing £1.7 million per MW. In other words, six nuclear power stations could produce more electricity than all those windfarms for only a fifth of the price. If Centrica really wants to help Britain keep its lights on, it could, for £80 billion, build 30 "carbon-free" nuclear power stations to generate 48,000MW of electricity, more than the average 47,000MW now produced by all Britain's power plants. But since this would not count towards meeting our EU renewables target, to do anything so sensible would put us in serious breach of EU law.


Rex said...

Is your back garden big enough to house one Ian or is it a case of "Not in my back yard"

lettersfromatory said...

Windpower is such a con. It's just to please the annoying environmentalists, without looking at the realities of energy production.

Mind you, I bet a nuclear power station built in this country wouldn't be anywhere near as efficient as one in Europe, such is our spectacularly bad record with big projects.

Simon said...

Also interesting is the FT piece on Nuclear power and the cost of subsidizing that.

Also whats the deal with your

fantasy footy league.

Blackacre said...

Yes, but where do we put all the waste neclear power generates? I would be a huge supporter of it if that question is answered, but so far no one has got close.

Anonymous said...

I'm pro-nuclear. I just want the true cost of nuclear to be properly audited and presented truthfully before the tax-payer picks up the bill which we undoubtedly will. But there are various omissions in the article. For example the cost of wind turbines has increased on the back of commodities like oil and iron and steel production. The figures are even worse for nuclear were giant orders of steel and other commodities have to be placed several years in advance and can't take account of market fluctuations. Therefore the amount of money to make 30 nuclear power stations is a hell of a lot more (the Finish power plant is a cost of the past not the future and like financial products past performance/cost doesn't guarantee future performance/cost). Second wind turbines do operate around 30% of capacity but nuclear power is only 35-40%. Also it's Centrica's money and they can do what they like.

Anonymous said...

The whole visual pollution thing isn't really a problem when it comes to offshore windfarms...

Anonymous said...

You know all those empty and unused Scottish islands...

MB said...

Large vessels like oil tankers regularly manage to hit objects that have been there for millions of years so putting even more obstructions along the coastline seems to me that one day an oil tanker will run into an offshore wind power station (I refuse to call them farms)


Broon's Talking Bawgie said...

Yes, but where do we put all the waste neclear power generates?

In Labour constituencies. It's time the buggers gave something back after all they've taken off the rest of us this last decade.

Blackacre said...

Never a truer word, Broon's Talking Bawgie! Currently it is all at Sellafield/Windscale in (Jamie Read - Lab's) Copeland. A proposal a few years to use (John Gummer - Con's) Suffolk Coastal came to not much I reem to remember. It brings such jobs as there are to west Cumbria so the local Labour voters will not complain too much.

Anonymous said...

I have been telling people this for the last 5 years.

Combined cyle gas turbines operating at 60% thermal efficiency and running flat out on chep gas that will soon be flooding into the Uk form new LNG terminals on the Thames Estuary, Milford Haven as well as by pipeline form Norway will masisvley undercut all forms of renewable and nuclear.

Iam not in the energy industry now so have no vested interest other than s a tax payer and electricty bil payer.

All forms of generation are far too expensive compared to combined cycle gas turbines on a levelised cost basis (i.e running cost plus initial build cost spread over the life of the plant ).

Natural gas is a ubiquitous fuel indigenously present in virtually every country on the planet and massively cleaner than coal fired generation both in terms of CO2 and SOx and NOx emissions.

Johnny Norfolk said...

Everone knows this apart from the government, The greens and David Cameron.
Its just posturing a panderering to the flat earth people.
These people are just not in the real world as other countries move forward we are going backwards under Labour.

Anonymous said...

Another point on windpower; the coldest days of the winter occur when a high pressure area sits over the UK.

These high pressure areas are generally associated with light winds. So when we most need the power there won't be any.

wrinkled weasel said...

If were all that simple. The nuclear power industry is not only subsidized, they can ride roughshod over local opinion in a way that wind power cannot. I live close enough to a Nuke to feel slightly uncomfortable. In an accident I would have to be evacuated.

How many wind turbine failures does it take to require the emergency mass removal of a community and how many wind turbines will still be dangerous hundreds of years from now and require monitoring and storage and pose a terrorist threat?

These wind turbines may look a bit odd in Tunbridge, but up here in Scotland they represent a speck in hundreds of square miles of open, ugly, scrub. I regularly walk along the Southern Upland Way footpath where they are in evidence at several points. I rather like them.They look majestic and benign.The ugliest sight on the moors is those giant yellow signs telling me "No more wind farms"

I know what I want in my back yard and it aint a Nuclear Power Station.

Anonymous said...

Can't understand why they don't go for tidal power, it is constant and totally predictable unlike the wind. The Thames barrier for example should be generating electricity when it's not required to stop London flooding.

You will get your Nuclear wish though Ian, there are big bucks to be made and Brown and his ministers have many links (often family)to the Nuclear Industry.

Agree with you on windfarms, loads of them where I live spoiling the landscape. How many years do they have to operate just to recover the energy required to manufacture and erect them in the first place?

neil craig said...

he Finnish nuclear power station is actually a relatively expensive one, mainly because they have a strong "Green" lobby - the French who brook little nonsense can do it at half the price & the Indonesians recently bought 2 x 1,000mw reactors at $1,000 each.

A senior Scottish politician recently admitted that windfarm developers get more money from government grants than they do from selling electricity, even at the artificially inflated price the "renewables obligation" produces.

Blackacre the question of waste has been answered nany times & like the Irish Question the eco-nuts just go & ^think of a (slightly) new question". Reactor waste amounts to about 1 cubic metre per reactor year. Because it is highly radioactive it has a short half & is therefore safe in about 50 years. Burying it takes up only a very small space. Indeed, as part of their new question the eco-nuts are now opposed to deep burial not because of any danger but because the "waste" is actually very valuable, containing isotopes otherwise unavailable & should thus be available for sale. Hardly an argument against producing it though they tend not to dwell on that part.

Anon 10.30 is not the first person to start a post explaining that they "are not against nuclear" & then explain why they are. It is a common eco tactic designed to give an appearance of non-existent balance.

Anonymous said...

"MB March 31, 2008 10:39 AM

Large vessels like oil tankers regularly manage to hit objects that have been there for millions of years so putting even more obstructions along the coastline seems to me that one day an oil tanker will run into an offshore wind power station."

Absolutely correct in my view.

I do not beleieve that the reinforced concrete piers and pylons of an offshore wind turbine are strong enough to withstand the combined weight of cargo plus vessel weight of a fully laden Ultra Large (ULCC) or Very Large (VLCC) running aground onto them.

In my view, the combined fully laden weight of 400 - 50O thousand tonnes of one of these enormous vessels if it lost power in a storm and ran aground onto a wind farm in a sideways position would be unstoppable. Even if lines could be got aboard, I doubt that even the largest largest Smit Tack ocean going tugs would hold it from being driven onshore by storm force wind and waves. The impact of a vessel of thsi size would snap a wind turbine pylon off as a jagged stump just below the water level. That stump would then rip through the side of the vessel. The hole so created would allow leakage of crude oil from the breached compartment and fill with sea water. There is a very high risk that this would then cause the vessel to settle down (sink) on to the bottom eventually breaking its back (keel) and the enire loss of the cargo would ensue.

The Torry Canyon disaster spilled about 90,000 tonnes of crude oil and contaminated 300 km of coastline around Cornwall.

Imagine what 4 times that amount of crude oil would do!

Anonymous said...

I bet those figures for nuclear power don't factor in the security cost implecations.

Newmania said...

I note the EU involvement .Sorry bto be off topic a bit ...but this being such a clever place ..can anyone help


Can anyone clear this up ? In Prospect the News and Curiosities section states that"...less than 10 % of all legislation and regulation passed by British parliament derives from Brussels , according to the House of Commons Library. Furthermore just 1% of gross national income goes to Brussels ….

Now the following very different figures could have come from numerous sources but I happened to be reading a Policy Exchange Report on Constitutional Reform by Frank Field called” Back From Life Support”. It says “ The German Parliament that calculated that 70% of its legislation has its genesis in Brussels . The same weighting of Brussels lead legislation must operate here.

Which is it 70% or 10%. ?

Also why is it is only1% of the GDP goes to Brussels it is commonly said that the cost is £5000 per household and there are about 15 million of them in the UK so that’s £75,000,000,000 and the UK GDP is about £2.1 trillion which…um …(I think is 2.1 of these , 1,000,000,000,000.?!?!?”!? ) So that’s 75/2100 x100 or about 3.5%

Which is it 3.5% or 1% or have I got my trillions mixed up …

Newmania said...

Neil Craig superb comment , how nice to see something put so clearly.

simon said...

Because it is highly radioactive it has a short half & is therefore safe in about 50 years.

What are you basing that on?
Plutonium has a half life circa 9,000 years. Urainium 235 about 700 million years.

Alex said...

Iain, The Booker article starts from a premise of bias against wind so he doesn't give a balanced view. He is probably right about offshore wind power. There may be more wind out at sea and fewer obstructions but it is expensive to build and his higher costs probably include the cost of reconguring the grid to accept power from points where there hasn't been a lot of generating capacity.

However, Booker omits to mention that the operating costs of wind farms are sunstantially lower than any other form of generation and unlike most other forms of generation they don't require any fuel. Nuclear power stations do require fuel, require substantial staff for operation and maintenance and have significant decommissioning and waste processing costs (all of which were left out of Booker's numbers).

Booker says that wind farms operate at less than 30% of their capacity, but he omits to mention that the availability of our current nuclear power stations is not much better.

Wind power isn't the greatest technology, and it isn't the solution to all our problems, but the capital cost per MW is falling every year.

dirty european socialist said...

Booker says he supports the UK. Yet he wants us to build a device which could destroy the UK. One nuclear accident in Chernobyl killed 250,0000 people another one could wipe out the south east literally. It is an insane gamble.
Why is it one minute you lot say global warming is not happening then you want to build nuclear energy stations which can only help our enemies, and since when was Booker a nuclear expert.
Bin Laden loves nuclear energy stations. They are his ticket to fame.

Blackacre said...

So, neil craig, if it is that easy to sort the waste why has no one done it?

Colin said...

So - will 'Dave' now seek planning permission for a mini nuclear reactor on his roof rather than the ridiculous (and expensive) wind turbine he is currently seeking permission to errect?

Its about time we followed the French lead in national projects like this, airports and railways - the govt decides what needs to be done (because that's their job), and gets on and does it, in the teeth of local opposition, for the national good. For what we would save in loopy planning inquiries and endless delay we could afford to buy out all protestors at 150% of their property's value so that they could relocate elsewhere, having been generously compensated. Argument closed: job done.

Gary Elsby Stoke-on-Trent said...

The visit of Nicholas Sarkozy, was to confirm the co-operation of the French in building our power stations along their designs, but what we really need to know is whether Chris booker mad or senile?

Secondly, I think that Iain Dale should publicise that he has no connections to the nuclear industry and that Lord Ashcroft supports wind farms.

I'll take it as read that he, or his party, has no connections with responsibe Government.


Adrian Yalland said...

I really don't understand the problem with nuclear power. However, I wouldn't want to live next door to one! Ugleeeeeee!

So, where do we put these new nuclear stations? What sham consultations do we go through to ensuere local people's voices are properly ignored?

dirty european socialist said...

New Zealand has a better carbon record than us an has no nuclear plants, as they built hydro electric plants in the sixties. Why can we not just build hydro electic plants, as surely they would be better than the Kiwi ones of aprevious generation. As long as they do not cause the movement of villages. There are enough uninhabited glens in Scotland, Welsh mountains ranges and Yorkshire.
This would be better than building a nuclear energy plant which could destroy entire chunks of the UK if an accident or terror attack occurred.
I realise a flood can happen from a hydro electric plant, and people will say terro attacks could be done on the dams. But try blowing up Loch ness. It is hardly easy. Why has hydro gone out of fashion?
Thnk about it Nessie would say yes and you know it.

Anonymous said...

There is plenty of land around Chernobyl that would make a perfect location for nuclear power generation or storage. If there are any further leaks the environmental impact will be limited.

Anonymous said...

dirty european socialist said...
"One nuclear accident in Chernobyl killed 250,0000"


The 2005 report prepared by the Chernobyl Forum, led by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and World Health Organization (WHO), attributed 56 direct deaths (47 accident workers, and nine children with thyroid cancer), and estimated that there may be 4,000 extra deaths due to cancer among the approximately 600,000 most highly exposed and 5,000 among the 6 million living nearby.[3]

dirty european socialist said...

2:02 PM What do Bulls have to do with this. Do they tell you your view on nuclear.
Greenpeace claimed contradictions in the Chernobyl Forum reports, quoting a 1998 WHO study referenced in the 2005 report, which projected 212 dead from 72,000 liquidators. So why did this figure suddenly fall in the meantime. In its report, Greenpeace suggested there will be 270,000 cases of cancer attributable to Chernobyl fallout, and that 93,000 of these will be fatal, but state "The most recently published figures indicate that in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine alone the accident could have resulted in an estimated 200,000 additional deaths in the period between 1990 and 2004." Blake Lee-Harwood, campaigns director of Greenpeace, believes cancer was likely to be the cause of less than half of the fatalities and that "intestinal problems, heart and circulation problems, respiratory problems, endocrine problems, and particularly effects on the immune system," will also cause fatalities.

So you can take the nuclear lobby's view or the view of a serious neutral charity, who are patroned by royalty. I know who I believe. I mean what possible justification would the nucelar lobby have to claim fewer deaths. Hmm apart form a few billion quid. Oh and I am sure the tobacco industry are right to say smoking does not kill anyone. LOL,.

strapworld said...

Iain, In respect of an earlier question asked by
Gary Elsby Stoke-on-Trent said...

Now I know he is semi illiterate but is Gary Elsby Stoke-on-Trent said... MAD?

Christopher Booker alongwith Richard North will go down, in history, as two true patriots. Unlike Gary Elsby Stoke-on-Trent said...who will go down with the rest of the socialist/labour/shower!

dirty european socialist: said...

2:02 Greenpeace have said the number is over 200,000 deaths in the Ukraine by 2004 alone. Thta is not counti ng the death figure since and in other nations across Europe. But I suppose you go along with the line that Greenpeace are lying hippies. Rather than a trustworthy responsible charity.
So be it.
So greenpeace talk Bull then, thanks for that mature view. I suppose you will tell me I am talking bull again. After all it is only human life we are talking about.

Rex said...

Anon at 2:02

Oh so thats OK then just a few dead?

James Bowie said...

Dear Mr. Dale,

I think you're full of it.

Best regards,


dirtyeuropeansocialist said...

2:02 Greenpeace have said a quarter of a million died. But I suppose to you they are just ignorant hippies. And the bnuclear lobby are allways right. Oh well only human life eh!

MB said...

"These wind turbines may look a bit odd in Tunbridge, but up here in Scotland they represent a speck in hundreds of square miles of open, ugly, scrub."

As someone who lives in the Highlands I would strongly disagree with that. They are huge blots on the landscape and with the recent accidents involving failures of wind turbines I can imagine the whole area around the wind turbines be closed off to everybody because of the danger in the event of another failure.

How much waste is their from the UK nuclear industry now? The greenies always like to include low level waste to inflate the figures.

There are very few places left where hydro-electric schemes can be built. Those that are built tend to be quite small though probably more reliable than a wind turbine. I think Loch Uisge was the last standard hydro scheme completed and it is thought that Glendoe might be the last large pump storage scheme.

Anonymous said...

I'm not against Nuclear energy and it certainly hasn't killed as many as coal burning but the de-commissioning seems very expensive. I don't think we should put all our eggs in one basket. We need a mixture and just to repeat myself all Government scientists should be locked up until they come up with a clean fuel that doesn't involve the Middle East.
I notice Tom Touhy (boss of Windscale) died the other day aged 90 so it doesn't seem to have done him much harm.
freedom to prosper

Anonymous said...

Could we burn benefit cheats?
freedom to prosper

Anonymous said...

Why do keep removing my point that greenpeace a serious charity pointed out 200,000 people had died in the UKraine by 2004 alone due to Chernobyl. Is this not an issue for debate And using the term Bull is wrong of your commenter. Since when were greenpeace Bull.

Sophie said...

The wind companies are not saying turbines are a permanent solution, they are saying that there needs to be an interim solution as new nuclear power stations take around 10 years to be built and come online. We need energy support inbetween that time and wind power is a great sustainable way of doing it. Unless your a nimby. Obviously.

ukipwebmaster said...

Hal Bore:

neil craig said...

Well DES you insist that 250,000 (or alternately 200,000 your assertion varies) people died at Chernobyl becuause the "neutral" Greenpeace said so.

I insist that this claim merely represents theh ighest standard of honesty to be expected from the eco-fascists. That the true figure is around 50. Thus Greenpeace & the corrupt parasites who support them are automatically proven 99.998% dishonest.

I have the UN report on my side & 50 (well OK 56) bodies to prove my thesis
What do you have?

The reason the expected death figure didn't happen is because they were based on the PC theory that there is no lower limit to the level at which radiation does harm - a theory repeatedly proven untrue.

The reason we cannot build as many dams as New Zealand is hydro power is a multiple of the amount of water & distance it falls & even Scotland does not have mountains matching New Zealand,s (see Lord of the Rings).

Blackacre - the reason waste is not being buried is the same reason we are paying twice what we should for electricity & facing blackouts. Political hysteria caused by deliberate lying Luddite lobbyists & media that do not care what the truth is so long as they can say something exciting.

Simon - uranium is the material as it is mined & has indeed been lying around giving off that radioactivity since the dinosaurs were little (see my comment about low level radioactivity). Plutonium is the fuel for reactors. Hence neither are the waste. The waste is isotopes called actinides & they do have the short half life I described.

All the stuff about hundreds of thousands of years of waste from reactors is merely the highest standard of honesty to be expected from the likes of Greenpeace.

Newmania thank you very much, particularly since I managed to say the Indonesian reactors cost £500 when I meant £500 million ;-)

Alex said...

Anonymous said @ 11:02AM
"Another point on windpower; the coldest days of the winter occur when a high pressure area sits over the UK.

These high pressure areas are generally associated with light winds. So when we most need the power there won't be any."

If we are getting our heat from electricity, then we are wasting resources. Much more efficient to get it from biomass (wood), biofuels, gas or even coal.

Alex said...

Anonymous @ 11:14:
"I do not beleieve that the reinforced concrete piers and pylons of an offshore wind turbine are strong enough to withstand the combined weight of cargo plus vessel weight of a fully laden Ultra Large (ULCC) or Very Large (VLCC) running aground onto them."

Maybe but VLCC's have a draght of 25m, whereas offshore wind farms are usually built in shallower water (the shallow bits of Liverpool Bay and the Wash), so it is very unlikely that a VLCC would hit a wind turbine before it ran aground.

scott redding said...

Do we have sun in the UK? Do we have tides in the UK? Do we have wind in the UK? Do we have uranium in the UK? Pick the odd one out.

Nick Drew said...

It is very difficult to place any degree of reliance on public utterances as the battle-royal for subsidies rages. Here's a lovely example from the nuke-merchants (the EDF comment in the last 2 paras): the perverse logic there is one for the connoisseur.

The wind, coal and biofuels lobbies are also in full sail.

The simple fact is that the sheer scale of what the EU intend (and we have been signed up for) would require efforts and expenditures vastly greater than anything that is currently happening in this country, at least: see here and here.

Oh - and Sarkozy wants us to pay for his nuke decomissioning bill, I confidently predict. Brown's just the man to sign up for this scam.

Simon said...


uranium is the material as it is mined & has indeed been lying around giving off that radioactivity since the dinosaurs were little (see my comment about low level radioactivity). Plutonium is the fuel for reactors. Hence neither are the waste. The waste is isotopes called actinides & they do have the short half life I described.

Uranium and plutonium are actinides. Seriously read up on the subject from a reputable source. Also don't forget half life means half life not all.

Anonymous said...

Newmania said...



Which is it 70% or 10%. ?"

Don't know, but I suspect you need to distinguish between primary legislation that goes through Parliament as a consequence of a EU Directive and other laws that do not go through Parliament but which derive from the EU i.e. regulations made by a Minister and EU Regulatins.

dirtyeuropeansocialist said...

"Greenpeace... I suppose to you they are just ignorant hippies."

Ignorant, lying, fascist, hippies.

neil craig said...

OK Simon I grant I was simplifying slightly. Technicaly Uranium & Plutonium are in the class of actinides just as CO2 & water are classifyable as liquids.

Nonetheless your argument is purely grammatical - the fact is tht Plutonium IS fuel & the actinides of the shorter lived elements ARE what makes up waste.

I know perfectly weel that half life means what it says. It means that after 1 half life the radioactivity is halved, after 2 it is quartered & after 10 it is 1,000th (well 1,024th before you insist) which for which for materials which have half lives in months or years makes them pretty safe. You might also remeember that zero radiation isn't an optionfor anything but getting down to being no more radioactive than Aberdeenshire is reasonable aim.

alking of which Scott the odd one out is nuclear. We do have radioactives in Britain (Strontium is named after the village of Strontian in Scotland) it is merely that there is so much of it available that, like gold, there is no point in mining it here. Wind, tides & sun are unavailable in Britain for much of the time which is why they are called intermittent cannot be used as baseload.

Anesha said...

Hi Nice Blog . In this, the body is studied by regions rather than by organs. This is of importance to the surgeon who exposes different planes after the skin incision and who, of course, must be perfectly familiar with structures as he explores the limbs and human endocrine system cavities.

jon said...

Coal and nuclear is way more expensive than what we pay in our bills. Tax payers and our children will pay the rest.

Solar wind and wave is much cheaper.

They seem more expensive because they dont have the ability to hide their costs as external costs.

What is the true cost of energy?

Jon chravel BSc