I just watched a thought provoking video that is available on www.ecotricity.co.uk. Ecotricity is a UK based company that bills itself as “The world’s first green electricity company.”
As you watch the video, take careful note of the amount of concrete, steel, aluminium, and copper used in the turbine foundation, mounting pole and generator. Think about how much fossil fuel is used in the full process of producing these finished materials.
While you are at it, try to keep track of the number of large diesel engines used to power the cranes, ships, and trucks involved in the construction and erection process. While you mentally add up all of the diesel fuel consumed during the time elapsed videography, consider the fact that the turbines shown will each produce a maximum of 2 MWe. Since they are being placed at an urban site of opportunity that was probably not selected based on good wind characteristics, I doubt if they will achieve a capacity factor in excess of 20%, but it might be as high as 25%. In order to produce the equivalent power of the nominal 1000 MWe nuclear plant, you would need about 2250 similar turbines.
Now you know why I chose the headline for this post.
I am not sure those are the thoughts that Ecotricity wanted to provoke when they made this video, but I will keep them in mind whenever I get involved in a discussion with someone who wants to talk about all of the carbon that is produced in the process of mining, milling, and enriching uranium and in building nuclear power plants.