Supporting information on wind-nuclear comparison – Ref: response to Sue Ion

Further to my response to Sue Ion’s comparison of nuclear and wind turbine output, there was some disagreement on Carboncounter as to the numbers I had used. I take the view that this disagreement is unjustified, with my reasons outlined below.

Fair comparisons need to compare like with like!

I made absolutely clear my calculations were for comparing proposed new build nuclear in 2020 with an assessment of typical large offshore turbines in 2020; for which I assumed 6MW at the lower end (as these are already being built and operated) and 10MW for the upper end.

The 2020 date here is pivotal and is being missed by some others’ comments and calculations, where they compare a new nuclear plant operating in 2020 (or possibly 2018) with current operating offshore turbines; this is not like with like!

Personally, from a policy and investment perspective I think there is not much benefit in comparing today’s technologies; but if we are to do so it needs to be on a fair basis.

So here goes:?5MW turbines are already generating electricity offshore around the UK (e.g. Ormonde wind farm). So I suggest a fair comparison for today is the UK’s largest nuclear station (Sizewell B) at 1.191GW (according to British Energy) with the largest turbines at 5MW.

In terms of capacity factors if, as some comments suggest, the last few years of offshore wind is to be used as a guide, then so should the last few years for nuclear generation, i.e. a five year mean load factor of 60% (see DUKES)

Using these figures, the number of turbines is between 408 and 433.

I will finish by stating that I am agnostic about nuclear power, but hold strongly to the view that comparing the various merits of different options and portfolios of options needs to be done fairly. Moreover, in considering the future, whilst we need to be guided by history, assuming the future is the same as the past is unhelpful. This is why my original calculations took a positive view about nuclear and wind.