“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle” - Often attributed to Plato but likely from Ian McLaren (pseudonym of Reverend John Watson)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Could the boys and girls at the Wall Street Journal please buy Keith Johnson a calculator?

As I read some of the news of the day, concentrating on some of my RSS feeds for wind related stories, I was drawn to this article in the (formerly) esteemed Fox Financial News Wall Street Journal. The thrust of the article is that offshore wind power is expensive to install. I have no reason to think that that's not true, it looks like South Korea expects to pay about $3.32M per megawatt, a lot of money in anyone's book.

But in the linked article we find:

"Take the new proposal for the world’s biggest wind farm by another Texas oil man, peak oil prophet Matt Simmons. His Ocean Energy Institute proposes building a 5,000 megawatt deepwater wind farm in the Gulf of Maine, blessed with some of the world’s strongest sustained winds.
The problem is that, as envisioned, the Maine offshore wind farm would be very expensive—and that vision includes some very optimistic assumptions.
Ocean Energy figures capital costs for the project could go as high as $4.5 billion a megawatt, a lot more than Mr. Pickens projects for his massive Texas wind farm. All in, the costs for the Maine project could come to $25 billion, or $5 billion a megawatt, the Ocean Energy folks told Earth2Tech. That compares to upfront costs of about $600 million per megawatt for old-fashioned coal-fired plants."
Woah. Let's see here. $5B/megawatt for 5,000 megawatts. That's $25T (trillion). But didn't he say that it would cost $25B? Yes, he did. So, which is it? I can assure my panic stricken windpower fans that $25B is correct for an installed cost of $5M/megawatt.
Keith Johnson is the lead writer of the Environmental Capital section of the Wall Street Journal which "provides daily news and analysis of the shifting energy and environmental landscape." It's led by Journal energy reporter Russell Gold.
The first commenter pointed out the three order of magnitude error, saving me the trouble.

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