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Nuclear Power Station Proposals Threaten Wind Farm

German utility giant RWE caused a stir yesterday by threatening the movement of a UK community wind farm. The company may want to move the wind turbines to make way for its new nuclear power station at Kirkstanton in Cumbria, England.

The Haverigg wind energy project owned by Windcluster, Baywind and Triodos Renewables was constructed in 1992 and is one of the first non-utility operated wind energy projects in the UK. The wind farm was later expanded to a total of eight wind turbines and is said to be locally popular.

Talking about the Government’s allocation of nuclear power station sites, Matthew Clayton from Triodos Renewables said “It’s staggering that they don’t exclude areas that are already productive sites for renewable technologies as part of the initial screening process. It just isn’t very joined up. They’re stamping out prime wind sites with arguably a much less sustainable technology.

Baywind Director Annette Heslop said “to face the prospect of having part of Baywind casually destroyed in this way is completely unacceptable. There is inequity in the approach by the Government towards nuclear, such as a dedicated website by decc where is the equivalent for wind power? If a tiny fraction of the money pumped into nuclear plants was instead to be devoted to community renewables we might all face a much more sustainable future in which ordinary people owned their own energy supplies.

RWE- one of the ten biggest carbon dioxide emitters in the world is also looking at other sites in England and Wales for new nuclear power stations. An RWE spokesperson said plans to move the wind turbines were by no means certain but that “an overlap could lead to some turbines needing to be moved…but we would have to discuss that with the operator and landowner“.

Government ministers expect a total of ten new plants to be built in the UK by 2020 at a cost of around £8.6bn (US $12.5bn) for each. UK energy companies are being incentivised to build new nuclear plants as the cost could initially be less than generating from coal fired power stations. This is not to say that building and operating nuclear plant is cheaper – however companies are not required to buy carbon emission permits and it is likely that government will “help” with the financial liability for decommissioning the nuclear power stations and waste disposal – another big bill for the next generation.

Content Discussion

Charles Barton's picture
Charles Barton

This story illustrates how crazy the windmill crowd is.  We have a proposal to replace a 3.5 MW wind generating facility that produces power at 35% of capacity factor with a nuclear facility that produces 1.6 GW of electricity 90%+ of the time. The pro-windmill idiots think that this is completely unacceptable, and somehow staggering.  We have the sustainable future myth marched out and deployed, as if it is better to keep a tiny wind farm pumping out 1 MWy of electricity per year, rather that having a nuke pumping out 1.4GWy per year of carbon free power every tear.  This is utter and complete insanity.  In other words typical thinking for renewables advocates.  

Tom Raftery's picture
Tom Raftery

Charles and Geoff,

It is a pity (and does your argument no good) that you feel the need to denigrate renewable energy.

And Charles, while nuclear plants may output relatively little power while up and running, let’s not overlook the fact that the carbon cost of building a nuclear power plant is enormous.

Vicky Portwain's picture
Vicky Portwain

Charles and Geoff – the renewable energy industry is made up of people from a wind range of backgrounds, from ecology and engineering (including people who have worked on nuclear projects) to environmental scientists and planners and in most cases I suspect not the “pro wind-mill idiots” you think they are.  In reality I very much doubt that the Haverigg wind turbines will be moved and that this situation is very much a “communication issue”.  I am sure that both parties will find a way of making the two energy projects work together.  This situation is interesting in that it is very much reflective of what needs to happen on a national scale.  Yes there is an obvious difference in energy generation – however that does not mean that there is not a place for decentralised renewable energy – utlising an indeginous energy resource – it is an essential part of the energy mix both in terms of carbon reduction and security of supply.  Even the big utilities believe this – which is why they are piling $millions into wind energy.  Would you class these utilities (i.e. RWE and EDF) as part of the “crazy windmill crowd”.  The nuclear issue is sensitive and we all know why – whilst we may need it there is much in the way of smoke and mirrors when it comes to the financial costs and the issues of decomissioning and waste. 

Charles Barton's picture
Charles Barton

Tom Raftery claims that the carbon cost of building a nuclear power plant is enormous”.  Tom where did you find this preposterous information.  Please don’t tell my that your source is the often discredited Smith and Storm Van Leeuwen study.   The manufacture of steel and cement is carbon intensive, and far more steel and concrete goes into windmills per rated MW than into nuclear plants.   Most empirical studies of ERoEI for nuclear plants suggest that carbon input is quite low.  Research shows that CO2 emissions per KWh of PV generation would be higher that CO2 emissions per kWh of nuclear.  

I will add that I favor the rapid development and low cost/low energy input factory manufacture of small modular Molten Salt Reactor type Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors.  The energy input into their construction and fuel manufacture is very small.  We could easily see CO2 emissions that are 1% and even .3% of already very small amount of CO2 produced by manufacture ands operation of conventional reactors.  In fact the manufacture and operation of LFTRs would produce far less CO2 emissions than the manufacture and operation of renewables.  
Charles Barton's picture
Charles Barton

Vicky Portwain The renewables Industry is involved in selling products that would not sell without heavy subsidies and government mandates.  Last year T. Boone Pickens admitted as much.  Renewables advocates never miss chance to attack nuclear often with preposterous lies.  I have been repeatedly called a shill of the nuclear industry simply because I support nuclear power and criticize renewables.  Renewables advocates cannot have it both ways,  You cannot continue to attack nuclear power the way you have, and expect nuclear advocates to not fight back, You renewables advocates  are hugely overt hyping your products.  You are careless with the facts and you should be prepared for a lot of criticism.  

Karen Street's picture
Karen Street

Eek, Charles.

I would hope that we can all discuss what is true and not, what is needed and not, no matter the behavior of some people. 
In a civil manner and with respect for the truth and respect for others who are somewhere on the path. 
Renewables are needed, I don’t see any uber analysis that gets us to 2050 without a big increase in renewables. While solar is not expected to be important before 2030, it is expected to be important in the decades afterwards. Just as people today fight climate change for younger people and those not yet born, so we must invest in energy sources today for younger people and those not yet born. And there is no way that nuclear can move in and displace all fossil fuels between now and 2030 or now and 2050, even if there were no opposition to nuclear power in the public. I see rational support of renewables as part of the solution (euphoric support is likely to lead to a backlash, as Geoff said elsewhere), and I thank all those working for all the various solutions to climate change.
That said, it is also hard for me to get excited about a tiny wind farm with windmills at or near the end of their useful life. 
Vicky Portwain's picture
Vicky Portwain

It amazes me that anti- renewables people use government subsidy as a reason for opposition when they support nuclear.  Nuclear would not even get a look in, if it were not for vast government commitment – at a minimum taking on some of the decommissioning liability.  Do you know of any nuclear power stations built and decomissioned / waste disposed of all on the open market?  I am not saying the need for government involvement is wrong – but you cannot use it as something against renewable technology when nuclear is likely to need more subsidy.

So all renewable advocates are the same – in the same way as all Americans are the same or all Africans?  Please tell me what facts I have been careless with.

As I have previously mentioned – many renewables advocates also support nuclear (around 50/50 with many “uncertain”) so please do not put them all in the same box.  I have not attacked nuclear – I have merely asked some questions about costs which have not been answered.  



Tom Raftery's picture
Tom Raftery


As has been said, try to be civil. Calling people crazy, insane or using preposterous information when they disagree with you only serves to make you (and by extension your argument) look bad.

 Vicky more than adequately answered your completely baseless “careless with the facts” accusation. I will just add to that I didn’t see you link to any source to back up your numbers/claims.

Re nuclear and CO2, according to the Rocky Mountain Institute:

Firmed windpower and cogeneration are 1.5 times more costeffective than nuclear at displacing CO2. So is efficiency at even an almost unheard-of seven cents per
kilowatthour. Efficiency at normally observed costs beats nuclear by a
wide margin— for example, by about ten-fold for efficiency costing one
cent per kilowatthour.


Mark Lazen's picture
Mark Lazen

Thanks to all here for being “self-policing,” and in such a de-escalating fashion.

As I’ve said before, we hope this community can be a place where people with very different perspectives can engage in civil dialogue. Because that’s the only way to make progress in addressing these critical issues.

So please know that while The Energy Collective is loathe to exclude anyone from our discussion, we will not tolerate abusive behavior. We love it when the community reins in its own. But if you ever feel that there is unacceptable behavior going on that we’ve missed or not properly addressed, don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly, or via

Charles Barton's picture
Charles Barton

Crazy is crazy.  I do not suffer it gladly.