Power generation – wind vs. anything else

While working at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS), I spent a fair amount of time reading and asking the engineers about the various forms of power generation. The worst by far was wind.

SONGS generated 2,200 megawatts per day, all day, every day (total with both reactors).

The average wind turbine generates between 1.5 megawatts, if the wind is blowing. There was work being done on some 3-5 MW (and larger) wind turbines, but the cost was outrageous.

Islay, Scotland limpet wave powerAfter the discussion and research, I’m most excited about wave power. In Scotland they’ve been installing these concrete ‘boxes’ on the shoreline that use the ebb and flow of the ocean to compress and suck the air in the ‘boxes’, which turn turbines. I found it pretty interesting.

This wave-power design is somewhat new, but costs next to nothing compared to the giant wind turbines, which cost $4-6 million (EACH) for the 1MW turbines. And I would guess that the cost hasn’t come down, as the technology continues to progress (and companies want to make more money.)

Wave power electric generationJust thought I’d share some personal experience. I also generally believe that nuclear power is the best solution. France uses their nuclear fuel much longer than the US does (which means the US generates more ‘waste’ / fuel that is below a certain percentage of ‘potency’) AND France recycles their ‘old’ nuclear fuel for other purposes, while the US just stores the leftover fuel in giant casks.

I worked at SONGS during Fukushima and learned a lot about how and why their plant failed – it came down to simple government corruption. Their safety reviews were simply paid off, rather than legitimately checked. The US NRC came to our plant A LOT and seriously, safety was beyond belief. I got talked to multiple times about not holding hand-rails when walking up/down stairs, not wearing my safety gloves when MOVING boxes and for once for talking on my mobile before I fully stopped walking. TONS of rules – and anytime I asked ‘why’, the people could give me multiple GOOD reasons as to why they had that rule. It was one of the best places I’ve worked.

SONGS - San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station