“An Opportunity for Green Energy” (Reuters Breakingviews, April 22) reports that Oregon’s Shepherds Flat wind project “will create 850 megawatts of capacity, close to the output of a typical atomic reactor.”
The Watts Bar reactor that the Tennessee Valley Authority is building is “typical.” It has a capacity of 1,180 megawatts. Its output will be available 95 percent of the time. (Watts Bar will be offline once every 18 months for maintenance and refueling.)
The 845-megawatt Oregon wind farm will produce electricity only when the wind blows, which is about one-third of the time. So a more accurate comparison of the actual output of electricity would be about 1,121 megawatts from a typical atomic reactor versus about 279 megawatts from the Oregon wind farm.
And because wind power can’t be stored, nuclear or gas or coal plants will still be needed to provide power for the two-thirds of the time the wind isn’t blowing. In addition, T.V.A.’s experience with wind power is that it is available only 12 to 15 percent of the time when it is actually needed.
U.S. Senator from Tennessee
Washington, April 25, 2011
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