# News What do Cape Wind and Nuclear Power Have in Common?

1. Apr 30, 2010

### Staff: Mentor

What do Cape Wind and nuclear power have in common? Opponents come out of the woodwork to oppose both and there is no regulatory framework in place to limit the challenges for either. As a result, opponents can litigate the projects into oblivion. Case in point, Cape Wind. It is currently nine years into a regulatory approval process. This is in the news right now because the Secretary of the Interior has approved the project:
http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/energy/environment/2010-04-28-wind-farm_N.htm

What business this has running across the Secretary of the Interior's desk is beyond me, but in any case, the opponents say the fight isn't over. The article isn't saying what the next step is, so we'll just have to wait and see where it goes from here.

This is a problem that will become increasingly common for wind power if nothing is done about it, as offshore is one of the best categories of locations for a wind farm. Offshore farms have existed for decades in other countries, but don't in the US despite dozens of proposals because of the ability to litigate them to death.

And this shared trait with nuclear illustrates how two of the major criticisms of nuclear power (cost and time to build) have related components with wind power that are not a function of the type of power, but rather a function of the regulatory environment. Bottom line: a regulatory framework needs to be put in place to limit the time required to gain approval of the location for both nuclear plants and wind turbines. Allowing the free-for-all status quo to continue hurts the country a lot.

As an aside, this wind farm is in a unique position in that it directly offsets oil-based power production in the area. Clearly, a positive thing.

I'm also looking for information about the cost of all of this delay. Currently, estimates are that the project will cost from $1.6 to$2 billion, versus an initial estimate of $700 million (for 468 megawatts). I would presume (but would like confirmation) that a significant fraction of this$1 billion overrun is due to the 9 years of litigation. http://www.wickedlocal.com/barnstable/news/opinions/x1870701325 [Broken]

Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
2. Apr 30, 2010

### mgb_phys

Unless you're in the oil business

3. Apr 30, 2010

### Argentum Vulpes

I don't have a source on this but I'm willing to bet a lot of cost over runs on this project is the same reason for nuclear power cost over runs. That is that the developers of the project take out loans to get the project built and the loan repayments start right away not when the project is done and pushing electrons down the line, and making money.

Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
4. Apr 30, 2010

### mgb_phys

Ironically in the UK the biggest opponents of wind power is the nuclear industry.
Especially when British Nuclear Fuels LTD was caught secretly funding a grass roots countryside group that was opposing wind turbines

5. Apr 30, 2010

### aquitaine

This is the problem with development in the US, there's so much NIMBYism that nothing gets developed. Electricity doesn't grow on trees people.

EDIT: Didn't see this when I posted:

While I dont think that's good and while wind does have its place, I really dont think we should make our electricity so heavily dependent on such fundementally inefficient and unreliable sources as wind and solar.

6. May 1, 2010

### Staff: Mentor

The Phillies just signed Ryan Howard to a 5+ year contract extension, and that's not a good thing if you're in the New York Mets business.

So what?

7. May 1, 2010

### Ivan Seeking

Staff Emeritus
Don't worry, Russ, Obama is on the job now.

8. May 1, 2010

### Staff: Mentor

Indeed, Ivan, that has me more worried. He's a double-talker of a caliber that would make Clinton proud. He's giving token financial support to nuclear so he can say he is - while cancelling the Yucca project and stifling discussion by promising a report on nuclear waste he has no intention of having done at least until after his next election. A stall is just as useful as acting against nuclear and carries with it less political fallout. He's executing the plan to perfection.

And this action on Cape Wind itself certainly does not indicate a change in policy, he's just following the process that was already in place.

He is certainly not going to do anything to change the situation for the better - but this isn't an Obama vs Bush issue anyway: the problem (for both wind and nuclear) has existed for decades.

Last edited: May 1, 2010
9. May 1, 2010

### mheslep

Onshore in the US midwest corridor is much more economically attractive proposition than offshore, as 1) the US midwest has the best large area wind resource in the world, and 2) offshore wind costs 2-3x more upfront, which can take a long time for the better more consistent offshore winds to pay back. Finally in the case of the US Atlantic coast, offshore wind has hurricanes do deal with. I don't know that anyone has solved that engineering problem economically for a tower and blades in that kind of sea and wind state.

Last edited: May 1, 2010
10. May 1, 2010

### mgb_phys

The problem with offshore in the US is that it's a continent, except for the grand banks the water gets very deep very quickly.

11. May 1, 2010

### mheslep

12. May 1, 2010

Fear. They have fear of losing life, or a view, or a lifestyle. Unreasonable fear, but fear nonetheless. That's what they have in common. That said, I would think the coal industry would be disturbed, and not the Oil industry.

13. May 2, 2010

### aquitaine

To be fair Bush hasn't done much to help the nuclear industry either, and he lied about almost everything.

14. May 2, 2010

### mgb_phys

15. May 2, 2010

So true, and "bits" is kind understatement. The issue then is storage and transmission, which is doable, but the political will is absent. As usual :grumpy:

Lets stick our nuclear reactors, wind and solar farms there; we'd have a better and more practical energy yield than wasting corn.

16. May 2, 2010

### Staff: Mentor

Yes, that's absolutely true. I don't want this thread to be a Bush vs Obama thread because the reality is, neither party is handling this correctly.

17. May 2, 2010

### Staff: Mentor

I think a lot of the problem of using the midwest is the transmission lines. It doesn't matter if installing the turbines is cheaper if you have to run a couple of hundred miles of transmission lines to get to the nearest population center to send the power to. Besides, the power company that would build in the midwest is probably not the same company that wants to build off the eastern seaboard.

Anyway, an argument about which is better really is off topic because the reality is that power companies believe offshore wind power should be viable as evidenced by the fact that they've made proposals for it. Now Cape Wind's viability is an interesting case beccause according to the last link in the OP, they believe they can market the power to people willing to pay more to say they are getting their power from wind, thereby avoiding the problem of the power actually being double or triple what power from other sources cost. That's great if they can do it, but that kind of economics isn't going to last very long for wind power. That market will saturate rather quickly I would think.

Last edited: May 2, 2010
18. May 2, 2010

It's the opposite of the lure of fuel from cooking oil: it's doable only on a tiny scale, and only for a while. We need long term storage in our grid, and more efficient transmission more than anything else. With that, the rest can follow with lower degrees of investment.

19. May 2, 2010

### aquitaine

The real problem with wind is that it is a really bad idea in general. I ran accross a rather interesting post on a different forum about this topic that I'd like to repost.

source

That does a way better job of summing up everything that's wrong with it than anything I could say.

20. May 2, 2010

Hearts in the right place, but heads up their ****es... yep, that seems about right. :cries: