I have recently seen a lot of animosity toward the wind energy industry and electric cars. What prompted me to write this post was all the negative comments I saw on an Ad showing locations of plugins for Electric Vehicles in North Dakota. Most of the comments are rants about the wind industry, who was paying for the EV plugins and that the power in the plug come from coal. Reading the comments was disappointing. I’m going to toss some information out. There are a lot of interrelated topics at play and I would like to lay some things out.
Power Generation and Energy Production In North Dakota
The Internet Battle: Wind Industry Vs The Coal Industry
North Dakota is an energy powerhouse and has massive amount of energy resources. Coal, Wind, Oil & Gas of plenty…
Even though it shouldn’t be power generation is a political topic. Each side has their talking points while ignoring the faults of their chosen energy source.
Coal Creek Station is North Dakota’s largest power plant and is scheduled for shutdown in 2022. The announcement of the shutdown made a lot of people upset. I don’t blame them as it is difficult to find good Jobs in North Dakota, and power plant operator skills do not translate well to many other industries.
It is hard not to feel attacked if you work in the coal industry, but lets talk about it.
Economics and General Information
“Wind can’t produce Power Like Coal”
The max theoretical output of Coal Creek Station is about 1200 Megawatts. The station is old so it is unlikely to be able to hit that mark, but we’ll say it can. Each modern onshore wind turbine has a rating of 2-3 Megawatts.
– Simple Math 1200MW/2MW = 600 towers
– But, wind towers have an capacity factor that usually stated at 25%. In North Dakota its a little higher, but will use it anyway to make things look more fair.
600 Towers * 4 = 2400 Towers Owch. I’ve seen other “experts” say about 1500 towers. I expect the number is somewhere in the middle.
Cost per tower? 2-4 Million -> In North Dakota land is cheap and we can borrow some space on existing transmission lines so we’re going to use the lower number.
2400 Towers * $2,000,000 = $4.8 Billion
Coal creek has been online for 42 years. It is at the end of it’s life cycle. How much does it cost to build a new coal fired power plant? That’s not an easy question as North America isn’t building new coal fire power plants at the moment. According to this paper it would probably be over 3 billion https://schlissel-technical.com/docs/reports_35.pdf. (If I used the “experts” number of 1500 towers it happens to be $3 billion.)
So… Watt for Watt we the price is similar. Lets talk about investment. Wind towers are set up better to scale. You don’t need to build 1500 at a time.