Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Nuclear Power Versus Wind Power
a) In terms of power density - Nuclear - 56 watts per square meter, wind turbines - 1.2 watts per square meter, a nearly 47:1 advantage for nuclear.............b) In terms of resource intensity (per megawatt) - Nuclear - 90 cubic meters of concrete, 40 tons of steel, wind turbines - 870 cubic meters of concrete, 460 tons of steel, a 9.6 and 11.5 to 1 DISadvantage for wind turbines.............c) In terms of start-up cost - Nuclear - $4,800 per kilowatt, wind turbines - $5,000 per kilowatt, about a wash on this one.............d) In terms of capacity and efficiency - Nuclear - 90%, wind turbines - 30%, a 3:1 advantage for nuclear.............e) In terms of carbon emissions - Nuclear - zero, wind turbines - potentially a vast amount of carbon emissions in that these wind facilities always require a fossil fuel back-up, a significant advantage for nuclear.............f) In terms of projected costs for commercial electricity generation (per the International Energy Agency, 2015-2020) - Nuclear - $72 per megawatt hour, wind turbines - $94 per megawatt hour, a more than 20% cost advantage for nuclear.............f) In terms or waste material - alright, this is where it gets tricky. Yes, nuclear reactors do produce a fair amount of radioactive material, but there are in fact some options here. One option would be to do what France and some of the other countries have been doing; namely, re-using and reprocessing a great deal of the uranium and other by-products (a process that apparently cuts down on the amount of radioactive waste by approximately three-fold). Other possibilities would be to 1) utilize a process called transmutation in which a lot of the radiological waste is burned or 2) substitute thorium for the uranium and actually create less waste to begin with....But even with the process as it currently is, nuclear power is significantly better for the environment than coal is and it's obviously more practical than windmills (you would literally have to cover entire states with windmills in order to get the power that a nuclear facility gives you and you would still need a fossil fuel back-up due to the wind being intermittent - duh!). I think that we just need to face it here, folks, nuclear power is probably the future and windmills not.