The first three units of the first German off-shore wind farm have gone operational. It apparently ran into some First of a Kind (FOAK) challenges that provide some interesting numbers.
When complete, the facility will include 12 very large turbines that each have a maximum power capacity in optimum wind of 5 MW. Based on typical wind patterns the full array will generate somewhere between 158,000 and 263,000 MW-hours each year. That is roughly the same amount of power that could be generated by a 20 – 25 MWe nuclear plant – say one the Hyperion Power Module or perhaps two units of the Toshiba 4S.
The project was delayed for more than a year partially due to bad weather (on second thought, that might not be just a first of a kind issue for off-shore wind farms). The projected total cost will be $357 million, approximately $85 million more than the initial estimate. Considering the size of the array and its capacity factor, that cost overrun is comparable to exceeding the budget for a 1600 MWe Areva EPR by more than $5 Billion dollars.
Assuming a generous 40% CF for the 60 MWe peak capacity wind farm, the total cost of $357 million is equivalent to paying $19 Billion for a single 1600 MWe nuclear power plant that can operate at a modest average capacity factor – for a nuclear plant – of 80%.
However, please do not cry for the investors in the project. Their profitability will be assured by the rules of Germany’s feed in tariff laws which will guarantee that the project owners will receive $0.18 per kilowatt hour for their generated power.
Update: (Posted August 18, 2009 0307) A friend provided a link to a terrific, detailed article on Germany’s wind industry and the new coal and gas plants that will be needed to fill in the gaps that wind and solar are not supplying. Germany’s Green-Energy Gap was a feature article in the July 2009 issue of IEEE Spectrum. Fortunately, the article does mention that all of the effort to attempt to build wind, solar and new fossil fuel stations could be avoided if Germany simply decided to keep its existing nuclear power plants on line with a program of continuing improvements.