Spinning for Wind Power

The News & Observer in an editorial makes some “misstatements” about wind power.

Wind power, like solar-generated electricity, isn’t “on” all the time, as a coal- or gas-fired generating station can be. But the fuel is free and emissions are nil. Construction costs are far lower than with nuclear energy. Those are good reasons why wind and solar are increasingly attractive options.

The N & O actually contradicts its own mistaken statement “emissions are nil.”  Because wind isn’t “on” all the time, there must be back-up generating sources.  The emissions from these sources are properly attributed to wind power–so while a wind turbine may not emit anything, the generating sources that emit pollutants because wind is on the grid are wind’s emissions.

The construction cost argument is inexcusable.  First, why the N & O chooses nuclear as opposed to other sources is not answered in the editorial.

Regardless, according to the United States Energy Information Administration, the cost of a new nuclear plant is 11.9 cents per kWh compared to 14.9 cents per kWh for on-shore wind and 19.9 cents per kWh for offshore wind.  Coal is 10 cents per kWh and natural gas (advanced combined cycle) is 7.8 cents per kWh.

By my math, wind isn’t less expensive than nuclear or other conventional sources.  Not just content to make a minor misstatement, the N & O has to say construction costs for wind are far lower than with nuclear power.

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