Saturday, April 23, 2016

Subsidies for Wind vs Nuclear Power Plants

Subtitle: Wind-Turbine Projects Thriving Despite Only One Subsidy - Nuclear Dead With Six

Much is written about subsidies for renewable energy systems in the US, in particular for wind-turbine systems and solar power systems.  One blog, WUWT, recently ran a cartoon that is supposed to highlight the subsidies that are bestowed upon wind-turbines.  The
Wind Turbines in US
cartoon shows an angry, broken wind-turbine with smoke rising from the nacelle, red stains on the blades, and a dead bird near the tower's base.  There are also what appear to be two bags of cash near the tower's base, with the cash blowing in the wind.    The little broken turbine is given a name, "Subsidy Sam."  

The reality of wind-turbines is shown in the photo at right, clean, bird-free, and silently producing power. 

What is indisputable is that wind-turbines presently have a very small subsidy from government to encourage their construction and operation.  The subsidy exists as a choice between a one-time rebate of 30 percent of the installed cost, and a production tax credit of 1.5 cents per kWh sold that is adjusted for inflation.  Most plant owners elect the production tax credit.  

However, what is conveniently overlooked by the anti-wind crowd is that nuclear power plants, their favorite form of power generation, has far more, and far more costly forms of government subsidies.  The chart below illustrates the many forms of subsidy that the two forms of power generation presently have. 

For US Plants, as of 2016
Even with all the subsidies for nuclear plants, only four reactors are presently under construction in the US, two each at Vogtle and at Sumner.   Meanwhile, thousands of wind-turbines have been installed in recent years, with more thousands on the way.  In 2015 alone, 8,000 MW of wind-turbine power was installed in the US.   The nuclear plants under construction will be lucky indeed if they are started up within the next decade.  Within that decade, it is probable that another 80,000 to 100,000 MW of wind-turbines will be installed. 

For more details on the multiple subsidies enjoyed by nuclear power plants in the US, see this link to an SLB article, "US Nuclear Plants are Heavily Subsidized."

Roger E. Sowell, Esq.
Marina del Rey, California

copyrignt © 2016 by Roger Sowell, all rights reserved

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