What are the load factors of a wind power plant and a nuclear power plant?
How many wind turbines does it take to produce energy for a nuclear reactor?
Definition: the load factor is the effective annual average load in relation to the nominal load of the installation. This quantity is very important in calculating the profitability of an energy installation., whether renewable, nuclear or fossil.
Here are the French average figures for wind and nuclear energy.
In the case of nuclear power: the load factor is between 78 and 80%.
In the case of wind power: the load factor is within 20%.
In other words, a wind turbine is running at its rated power than 1 / 5 time.
To produce the energy equivalent of a 1,300 GW nuclear reactor (or at worst 0,78 * 1,300 = 1,014GW average effective), it is necessary to install not 1,053 GW of wind turbine but 1,014 / 20% = 5,070 GW.
The average power of future wind turbines built in France being 2 to 3MW, a nuclear reactor is replaceable at best: 5070 / 3 1690 = wind.
1 1690 nuclear reactor = 3MW large wind turbines.
In 2005, there were 59 reactors for 19 nuclear power plants in France. To obtain energy autonomy (or rather to do without nuclear), it is nearly 100 wind turbines of 000MW that would have to be built ... and this assuming that we know how to store energy for peak hours … Which is, currently, far from being the case.
These figures are all the more important, as 3MW is a very large power for “onshore” wind power, most current wind turbines making between 0,750 and 1,5MW.
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Source of the figures on the load factor: Jacques Percebois, in "C dans l'Air" of 24/11/06, Center for Research in Economics and Energy Law.