The NYT recently reported on new plans to lay a new submarine cable designed to carry 6GW of wind power from as far as 20 miles offshore to the grid along the East Coast. The idea of producing clean power out of sight and further from bird sanctuaries is creating quite a buzz. Read the full article here.
I began to wonder what the extra cost this cable will put on a technology that is pushing as hard as it can to lower its all-important $/KWh figure. After all, even with all of Google’s successes they are not above failure (c’mon, when was the last time you logged into google wave?).
Just to put some rough numbers together:
$5B in estimated cost to get the cable up and running. Let’s add another 15% in extra costs such as permits, cost of capital, maintenance, budget overruns, dirty politician bribes ‘campaign contributions’, etc… to make a total cost of $5.75B
6GW in rated production. Of course the wind is not so kind as to blow around the clock, therefore the cable will not always transmit at the rated 6GW. According to Wikipedia, a good capacity factor estimate would be 40% giving a time-average-output of 2.4GW.
If based on the expected service life of the electrical cable connecting Connecticut to Long Island Sound, one can expect a service life of 40 years. That makes for a total of 350,400 service hours.
Dividing $5.75B by 2.4GW gives $2,395 per KW. Divide the cost per KW by the number of service hours, and you find a total cost of $0.00595 per KWh.
A little more than half a cent, if I have my numbers right. What do you think? Think it’ll happen? Is it worth it? Would you pay the premium to put the wind farm far offshore instead of on the hill behind your house? Am I totally off my rocker with this over-simplified, Internet-search-based calculation?