Monday, May 6, 2013

Off Shore Wind Versus Nuclear: Guest Post by Willem Post

Off Shore Wind Versus Nuclear: Guest Post by Willem Post

AWC Schematic, from their website
Introduction by Meredith Angwin

Atlantic Wind Connection (AWC) plans to enable the Atlantic Coast to use off-shore wind efficiently.  As their website says:

The Mid-Atlantic region offers more than 60,000 MW of offshore wind potential in the relatively shallow waters of the outer continental shelf. 

The Atlantic Wind Connection (AWC) backbone transmission project is an essential foundation to this new industry.

Evaluation by Willem Post

Trans-Elect and Atlantic Grid Development are the Atlantic Wind Connection, AWC, project developers.

When completed, the AWC will be able to carry as much as 7,000 MW of offshore wind energy to consumers along the US East Coast.

With a project plan that envisages construction extending from 2016 - 2026, the developers intend to build out the offshore transmission backbone in five phases at a total expected cost of $6.311 billion. The capital cost of the IWTs (Industrial Wind Turbines) would be 7,000 MW x $4.2 million/MW = $24.53 Billion, for a total of $35.7 billion

Energy production would be 7,000 MW x 8,760 hr/yr x CF 0.40 = 24.53 TWh/yr

For comparison: The capital cost of 7,000 MW of nuclear plants (7 standard 1,000 MW plants) would be about $28 billion and the energy production of would be 7,000 MW x 8,760 hr/yr x CF 0.90 = 55.20 TWh/yr; more than twice the production at much less capital cost. They could all be built in about 10 years, thereby reducing CO2 much sooner than the IWTs which would take 20 years.

Completing the project would enable transmission of renewable offshore wind power to consumers in NY, Pennsylvania, NJ, Delaware, Maryland, Washington D.C. and Virginia.

According to a project analysis performed by IHS Global Insight, the AWC transmission backbone would be able to deliver:

3,417 MW of electrical power to NJ (44% of AWC’s total capacity);
1,015 MW to Delaware (13%);
1,013 MW to Maryland (13%)
2.297 MW to Virginia (30%).

Based on the above, it appears the energy cost of the IWTs will be at least 20 c/kWh and of the nuclear plants about 10 c/kWh, per EIA/US-DOE

About Willem Post

Willem Post is one of the most-read bloggers at The Energy Collective.  He has a B.S. and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering, and also an MBA.  He designed systems and evaluated costs for utility systems and large buildings.   He is an internationally recognized expert on the economics of wind power.

Post is a founding member of the Coalition for Energy Solutions, and an occasional guest blogger at this blog, for example, his November 2012 guest post: Wind in Vermont is Oversold.


Anonymous said...

I am wondering if electricity could be moved from Virginia to New York by this line. If so, then the cheaper electricity from the southern states could be sold at NY rates. Maybe this transmission line would allow Southern nuclear electricity to flow to anti-nuclear-electricity New England states.

jimwg said...

I wonder what Sandy (much less salt air and barnacles) would've done to the monsterous whirligigs....

James Greenidge
Queens NY

Bill Young said...

The southern terminus of the cable is suspiciously close to Surrey nuclear power plant.

Any chance this cable is a Trojan horse so that, in the event the wind turbines underperform or are never built, that nuclear power from Virginia could be marketed in New England?

Methinks I smell a rat.

Anonymous said...

About every five years or so a storm sweeps up the coast that will blow these things into the sea. Nuclear plants weather the storms without problems, and are generally the first back on line to assist in recovery efforts. A storm like Sandy, or the March 1962Noreaster, or the "Perfect Storm" of 1991 will wipe these things out.

Paul said...

Uvdiv made the same observation about the potential use of this proposed transmission line in 2010: He (?) also concluded that the wind energy potential was not good.

SteveK9 said...

Even multiplying a wind farm by its capacity factor (which you generously gave as 40%), does not convey the difficulty in using wind. The total output you calculate is not the same as a plant based on fossil or nuclear, since you have no control over when the wind is blowing. 40% may be correct but the output will vary almost randomly over every time scale between 0% and 100%. The Bonneville Power Authority has a graph with wind output plotted every 5 minutes ... go there and you will get an education on why wind is a pain.

Anonymous said...

SteveK9 makes the point that wind (and solar) are non-dispatchable sources of capacity. This severely limits their usefulness in a modern utility grid. Having generating sources available quickly when you need them is an absolute must for grid stability. Wind and solar don't cut it. If they are available when you don't need them you might as well not have them, because you can't store the energy "on the grid", as some renewables advocates claim. You need pumped storage for any kind of grid-scale storage scheme. Good luck with that in today's litigious world.