That’s just the beginning, and while that alone is important enough, what is more important is not this up front total, the Nameplate Capacity, but the actual power delivered to the grids for consumption by all the sectors actually using the electricity.
This is the important thing I want to show you.
Now, the operation of the coal-fired plant is such that while ever the crushed and powdered coal is being fed into the furnace to make the steam to drive the turbine, the generator is always turning, and always delivering its maximum power. The only down time is for maintenance, when the whole unit is totally shut down. What is happening in the Chinese plants is that they are actually running at around a 92% Capacity Factor. Now while that is early days, the lifetime capacity of a plant of this nature is around 80%, and some might even say that could be on the low side, as efficiencies in the more modern technology see these type of plant operating quite efficiently with respect to delivery of power. In fact, an Australian plant, near where I live here in Rockhampton, the Stanwell plant had one of its units in full operation for just under three years, a World’s record for any power plant generator.
However, for the sake of this exercise, let’s go with that lower figure of 80%. That means that over one full year, this coal-fired plant with both units running can actually deliver 15,428GWH. (GigaWattHours)
A typical large-scale coal-fired power plant has a lifespan of 50 years. This can be (and more often than not is) extended out by a number of years, but hey, let’s go with that lower figure of 50 years.
So now, over the life of the plant, we have an actual power delivery of 771,408GWH or converted, 771TWH. (TeraWattHours)
Keep that number in mind. 771TWH
Now, let’s look at the Wind Plant. When the proposal is first submitted, nearly all of them quote the Capacity Factor (CF) at 38%. Once operational, very few wind plants actually achieve that. Most settle down in the early years to a CF of 30%, and as data from all across the Planet is becoming more known, then a CF of 20% is actually closer to the truth, and in fact, some Countries have that CF as low as 15%. But hey, in much the same manner as I went for worst case scenario for the coal-fired plant, let’s actually go with the higher figure here of 20%, best case scenario.
So now we have this (equivalent cost) wind plant of 1275MW delivering 2235GWH per year: Note how that compares with the delivery from the coal-fired plant of 15,428GWH.
We are told that these wind plants have a life span of 25 years. So now, we have a lifetime power delivery from this wind plant of 55,875GWH or 55.875TWH.
Say, will you look at that. The coal-fired plant delivers 771TWH during its life and the equivalent costing wind plant delivers only 56TWH.
So the coal-fired plant delivers 13.8 times as much power.
That is the important thing I wanted you all to see.
For the same money, you get almost 14 times as much power.
There is an addition to this, something that is only now becoming known. They are finding out now that wind plants, while they claim 25 years as their life span, are realistically lasting barely 15 years, and some are barely making 10 years. That CF also is becoming more worrying as some plants are dropping to around 15% CF after only ten years.
So then let’s say the best we get out of a wind plant is indeed this newer figure of 15 years, then the total power delivery drops even further.
In this case, the coal-fired plant will deliver 23 times as much power, and if that CF falls, as is being shown, then that total power delivery drops even further.
So, then right at the start, we used the same amount of money for each of the plants, and here we find that the coal-fired plant delivers considerably more power over its life span.
You can add in all the things you like to make coal-fired power look bad, and wind power look good by comparison, but when it comes to actual delivery of power, then coal-fired power wins. In fact, it’s no contest really.
It’s a bit like saying you can win Le Mans in a Mini Minor, when you’re up against a Porsche racing car. In the Renewable supporters’ World, the Mini Minor wins every time, because they make the rules, and then force the Porsche to tow a 40 foot caravan.
Supporters of Renewable Power will see something like this exercise, and, umm, look the other way.
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© Tony from Oz 2013