Wind: more jobs and power for same investment

Greenpeace says no to new French nuke with wind turbines

Feature story - December 4, 2003
PENLY, France — Since the French power authority has refused to build wind farms, we built our own this morning on the grounds of a nuclear power plant in Penly, France. We put ten wind turbines up to protest the French government decision to build another nuclear reactor on the site, despite a large nuclear energy overcapacity and the far more environmentally and economically sane option of investing in wind energy.

Greenpeace activists display 10 model wind turbines on the premises of a nuclear power plant in Penly, France in protest at the French government's decision to build another reactor on the site.

Franc for franc, wind is the better investment. As detailed in a report published today, "Wind vs Nuclear 2003" the same money spent on wind power generates 5 times more jobs and 2.3 times more electricity than a nuclear reactor.

The cost of the proposed French reactor is officially estimated at some 3-3.5 billion Euros. If this amount of money were invested in wind power, some 7616 megawatts of wind capacity could be built, compared to 1550 megawatts in the nuclear case. Wind would generate a massive 24 terrawatts per year, the equivalent of 6.5 million households. Nuclear would only deliver 10 terrawatts.

In recent years wind power has gone from the hippy fringe to economic viability. In Germany, over 3,200 megawatts of wind power were installed in the last year alone, supplying electricity to more than 2 million households. In the EU, a massive 75,000 megawatts of wind capacity is expected to be online by 2010, tripling the current power and adding the equivalent electricity production of 14 large nuclear reactors.

Of course this worries the nuclear industry, especially given the current decline in nukes: no single reactor has been connected to the grid in the last four years, and it would take at least another 10 years before a new reactor could come online. A growing number of old reactors have reached the end of their life expectancies and should be shut down. In reality, wind has already taken the lead and left nuclear far behind.

"Greenpeace is urging state owned EdF, Electricity de France, not to impose yet another dangerous and uneconomic nuclear reactor on Europe. The EPR [European Pressurized Reactor] is nothing new, it is an outdated and unsafe design, to be fuelled by plutonium and will produce extremely radioactive waste," said our campaigner on site, Jan Vande Putte.

"Europe is at a crossroad and we refuse to let the nuclear lobby dictate our energy future regardless of the opinion, the environment and the security of people. Greenpeace asks EDF to make the right choice."


Download the full report Wind v Nuclear 2003. (pdf file)