Cape Wind Project: Started in 2001, the Cape Wind project is an offshore wind farm that will consists of 131 turbines situated within a 24 square mile area on the south coast of Cape Cod. The peak nameplate generating capacity is 454 megawatts (MW) and will deliver 170 MW on average due to the intermittent nature of wind. The developer, Cape Wind Associates, claims that 170 MW is nearly 75 percent of the 230 MW used by Cape Cod and the islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. Project cost is expected to be $2.5 billion.
The Cape Wind project has several issues. These include long development time, high capital cost, high cost of electricity, need for subsidies, and small percentage contribution to overall electricity generation in Massachusetts. These are discussed in the postings of April 20, 26, and 28.
Issue 1. Long development time
The Cape Wind project began in 2001 and has experienced a torturous path of red tape involving approvals, permits, licenses, certifications, lawsuits, and numerous local hearings related to not-in-my-backyard (i.e., NIMBY) issues. As of this writing (February 2011), the developer still has to acquire financing for the project and find customers (National Grid agreed to take 50 percent of the electricity generated by Cape Wind. The remainder has yet to be sold.)
Issue 2. High capital cost
The capital cost of offshore wind turbines is nearly $6,000 per kilowatt (kW), while onshore capital coast is $2,400. In comparison, the capital cost of standard fossil fuel systems ranges from approximately $700 to $1,000 per kW for advanced combustion turbines and conventional natural gas combined cycle systems, respectively.
The levelized cost of electricity generating technologies ranges from approximately $100/MWh for most technologies (i.e., coal, gas, advanced nuclear, onshore wind, biomass, hydro,) to nearly $250/MWh for offshore wind. Levelized cost is the present value of the total cost of building and operating a generating plant over its economic life.Tags: Cape Cod, Cape Wind, Capital Cost, Development Time, Electricity Generation, Massachusetts, NIMBY, Offshore Wind