With accelerated depreciation, wind projects can reduce the assessed value of their equipment on their financial balance sheets over a shorter period of time than other real assets.
Wind turbines come in many shapes and sizes, but here is a general guideline on how much they cost:
Total costs for installing a commercial-scale wind turbine will vary significantly depending on the number of turbines ordered, cost of financing, when the turbine purchase agreement was executed, construction contracts, the location of the project, and other factors. Cost components for wind projects include things other than the turbines, such as wind resource assessment and site analysis expenses; construction expenses; permitting and interconnection studies; utility system upgrades, transformers, protection and metering equipment; insurance; operations, warranty, maintenance, and repair; legal and consultation fees. Other factors that will impact your project economics include taxes and incentives.
The costs for a utility scale wind turbine in 2012 range from about $1.3 million to $2.2 million per MW of nameplate capacity installed. This cost has come down dramatically from what it was just a few years ago.
Most of the commercial-scale turbines installed today are 2 MW in size and cost roughly $3-$4 million installed. Wind turbines have significant economies of scale. Smaller farm or residential scale turbines cost less overall, but are more expensive per kilowatt of energy producing capacity. Wind turbines under 100 kilowatts cost roughly $3,000 to $8,000 per kilowatt of capacity. A 10 kilowatt machine (the size needed to power a large home) might have an installed cost of $50,000-$80,000 (or more) depending on the tower type, height, and the cost of installation. Oftentimes there are tax and other incentives that can dramatically reduce the cost of a wind project.
For More Information:
- Windustry has developed a WindProject Calculator to provide cash flow modeling for your wind project.
- Small Wind Turbine Product Information
- For locations in Minnesota Windustry has developed a Small Wind Financial Calculator that provides a way to get a handle on the economics of a small wind project in Minnesota using some different sized well regarded turbines.
- For an extensive report on wind project costs estimated for 2012/13 see this report on recent developments in the levelized cost of wind energy.
Windustry Wind Project Calculator
The Windustry Wind Project Calculator was designed by Alice Orrell, Alice Orrell Consulting, and Windustry for the Community Wind Toolbox.
The Wind Project Calculator was developed to assist in performing cash flow modeling for community wind projects. You will need to enter specific information about the type of turbine you are considering, the estimated annual average wind speed, information about electricity use and electric rates, and information about financing and income taxes. The program will estimate the cash flows for investing in a wind turbine and the rate of return on the cash investments.
Use this calculator in conjunction with software from the Idaho National Laboratory. The software from Idaho National Laboratory is designed to combine validated wind resource data with wind turbine power curves to calculate average wind speed, estimated annual energy production, and capacity factor. Also included with the software is a program to help you create a wind rose for your site. The software is available at www.inl.gov/wind/software/
- National Renewable Energy Laboratory's Wind Energy Finance Application (You'll need to set up a username and password, but there's no charge.)
One of the main benefits of wind energy is economic gain, both for individuals and for communities. Individuals can save money on their energy bills, and even make money by generating wind power. Communities can diversify their economies and enjoy greater reliance on local resources when their members invest in wind.
Of course, a wind project will provide these advantages only if the economics have been thought through in advance. Like any investment, wind energy projects require some research and a basic understanding of the risks, costs, and benefits involved.