Build Wind Energy, develop Pacific oil/gas… or fight wars?

This was a comment by someone I talked to a few months ago.. unfortunately, it was so long ago, and I started this post so long ago… that I no longer have my notes about WHO that person was… so lets just call him John Doe.

Let’s take that $300 billion figure for the Iraq war and break it down in terms of energy supply.

First of all, we could increase our domestic electricity generating capacity by 50%, as follows:

Assume $1million/megawatt as standard cost for building nuclear and wind. This figure I know well, having worked on engineering design for utility generating projects. It was the design target for financial viability, and our detailed cost breakdown for the project came in at just about that number plus or minus a couple of percent. (Yes, for real: I did not screw around with the numbers to make the finance guys happy.)

Present US electrical consumption is 3.656 trillion KWH / year according to CIA World Factbook.

To increase that by 50% we have to build capacity for about 260 GW (gigawatts) of new generating capacity. If we assume the standard ratio of 20% wind, 80% nuclear, and an average 2 MW wind turbine, and an average 800 MW nuclear reactor, we end up with about 26 million new wind turbines and 260 new nuclear plants.

At 80% uptime (a reasonable figure for nuclear and wind), this capacity will produce 1.821 trillion KWH / year, which is about 50% of total US electricity consumption.

So far our total cost is $260 billion, so we have about $40 billion left over.

With that “left over” money, we can take two million of the worst gas guzzlers off the road by replacing each of these with a 50-mpg hybrid, at approx. $20k per new vehicle.

We could have GIVEN the entire $300 billion away to utilities, independent power producers, and automobile owners, and gotten to that point.

Or we could have used it as loan guarantees to those constituencies, and thereby gotten all of that wind, nuclear, and efficiency benefit while retaining the $300 billion on the books as an ASSET rather than as part of the out of control budget deficit.

Instead we end up with a huge disaster that has weakened American military and intel capabilities, strengthened our real enemies, and destabilized a region of the world that the entire world depends on.

Great job, Mr. President.

This was in reply to my post on wind energy…

There is also interesting news on the Wind front coming out of the UK. Apparently they are set to deploy one of the first deep-water wind turbine installations.

Andris Piebalgs was speaking after a visit to the Beatrice oilfield where two of the largest turbines in the world will be installed in the next few weeks and begin producing electricity by the end of September.
The 280ft towers will stand in up to 150ft of water and will generate sufficient power to operate the oilfield which pumps 3500 barrels of oil a day. The five-year pilot scheme is the first step towards establishing a 200-turbine farm on the site which could meet 20% of Scotland’s total energy needs.

For those of you in Canada, especially in BC.

If we could install offshore windfarms, would that make you more or less inclined to develop the offshore oil/gas fields currently under moratorium?

Obviously the continental shelf off of the Pacific is significantly deeper than 150ft… but if you can anchor a gigantic oil platform out there, why not a wind turbine as well!? Make it part of the package… oil companies want to develop that gas? Then they’d better do the studies to assess turbine efficiency and install them as well. In the grand scheme… and at the prices that we are now looking at for crude oil… the economics of this should not be very far from reality… if they aren’t already in the “black”.

2 thoughts on “Build Wind Energy, develop Pacific oil/gas… or fight wars?”

  1. The first italicised quotation is not from one of my posts, although it is beginning to look like Iraq and Afghanistan are both going under.

    The calculations for enlarging the US electricity supply are interesting to see, although there would be insurmountable problems adding that many new nuclear power plants. Probably the least bad transitional strategy would be to mandate an efficiency of 50-100 mpg for all new cars and to incentivize the kinds of renewables you have in mind. But the solution in the long run is some form of new energy (eg. zero-point, hydrino, fusion, etc.). Renewables would impose a constraint on planetary consumption 500 years from now, if not sooner, and we will need to discover new kinds of energy if we need more.

  2. Hi David,

    Sorry, I could have sworn you had said that… but it was so long ago now since I originally started this post that I don’t even remember which post I was referring to those months back… so I’ll just delete the reference to you from this post. 🙂

    I’m glad to be back and getting into the groove again. I’m hopefull I can keep it going. There is so much to blog about, I just couldn’t hold back anymore! 🙂

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