Wind farm to power nuclear arms plant

Pantex Renewable Energy Project
Screen capture Pantex

If you were to first read Fast Company's article "The Largest Federal Wind Farm Will Power The Dismantling Of Nuclear Weapons" and then Time's "Nuclear Wind: Government’s largest wind farm to be used to generate electricity for assembly of atomic bombs" you would probably be pretty confused about what happens at the Pantex plant in Texas.

So, let's start by stating that the Pantex plant is "the nation’s primary site for assembly and disassembly of nuclear weapons" according to the plant's website. The Fort Worth Star Telegram reports that since 1991, thousands of nuclear weapons have been dismantled at the plant:

The facility now has three main goals: ensuring the safety of the stockpile of nuclear weapons, nonproliferation (which includes dismantling weapons, storing plutonium pits and extending the life of some weapons), and safeguarding and securing the weapons and the plant where they now are stored.

The plant is also notable because the largest wind farm is being built there. The The National Nuclear Security Administration awarded the contract to Siemens Government Technologies, which broke ground on August 13. The project is expected to generate energy savings on average of $2.8 million annually over the 18-year contract term. Texas has been one of the country's top producers of wind energy since 2006.

According to a press release, the wind farm will provide for more than half of the plant's energy needs:

[Pantex Renewable Energy Project] will generate approximately 47 million kilowatt-hours of electricity annually, which is more than 60 percent of the annual electricity need for Pantex, or enough electricity to power nearly 3,500 homes. The project will reduce CO2 emissions by over 35,000 metric tons per year; the equivalent of removing 7,200 cars from the road each year or planting 850,000 trees.

Using wind power to disable bombs seems awesome; using wind power to "extend" the life of some bombs is confusing. Perhaps the most discombobulating thing about this story is that logo, of which Stan Alcorn at FastCo. said "a spokesperson assures me is for real" and can be seen on official documents here.

Tags: Energy | Texas | Wind Power