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Published on March 18th, 2011 | by Zachary Shahan


Offshore Wind Energy Cheaper than Nuclear Energy, EU Climate Chief Says

March 18th, 2011 by  

offshore wind turbineI wrote a short piece last week on onshore wind energy being cost-competitive with coal in some regions. Now, EU climate chief Connie Hedegaard has added that offshore wind energy is cheaper than nuclear.

Offshore Wind Energy is Very, Very Cheap — Cheaper than Nuclear

You often see people claiming that nuclear energy is so cheap — (I always wonder if their figures are based on what nuclear energy projects are projected to cost or the actual cost of such projects, which often ends up beings several times higher). Of course, not even taking the great risk posed by nuclear power plants into account, wind power costs have been dropping in recent years and, as Hedegaard (referring to offshore wind energy, in particular) contends, “People should believe that this is very, very cheap.”

“Some people tend to believe that nuclear is very, very cheap, but offshore wind is cheaper than nuclear,” Hedegaard says.

EU May Learn from Nuclear Catastrophe in Japan

While leading U.S. Republicans in Congress think we have nothing to learn from the nuclear catastrophe in Japan and the Obama administration has said that nuclear still needs to be a part of our clean energy solutions, the tone is very different in the EU.

“There are 143 nuclear power plants in Europe and they are not going to disappear,” Hedegaard said at the European Wind Energy Association’s annual conference in Brussels. “But when it comes to new energy capacity that discussion is likely to be very much influenced by what is happening in Japan.”

Even without taking the risks of nuclear energy into account (and the problem of tremendously long-term storage), the supposed need for nuclear in order to get off of potentially more dangerous coal is quite dubious.

Solar Energy Also Cheaper than Nuclear Energy

And remember that last summer, John O. Blackburn, a professor of economics at Duke University in North Carolina, and Sam Cunningham, a graduate student at Duke, wrote a paper titled “Solar and Nuclear Costs — The Historic Crossover” that reported solar photovoltaic energy had become cheaper than nuclear.

And really, beyond the costs, what are the risks of wind turbines or solar panels failing?

Is it time to finally let the nuclear dream of “energy too cheap to meter” fade away?

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Photo via Nuon/flickr


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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA] — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in this company and feels like it is a good cleantech company to invest in. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort on Tesla or any other company.

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