Project Economics

How much do wind turbines cost?

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.

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Wind Project Calculator

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/

Use of the Windustry Wind Project Calculator is for informational purposes. You may not modify any content, create derivative works from, transfer or sell any information, products or services obtained from Windustry unless expressly permitted by Windustry. Elements of the Windustry Wind Project Calculator are protected by trade dress, trademark, unfair competition, and other laws and may not be copied or imitated in whole or in part. The Windustry Wind Project Calculator is provided "as is," and Windustry makes no warranties or representations of any kind that the services provided by this software will be uninterrupted, error-free, or free from viruses or other forms of harmful computer code. You may not remove the Windustry logo from this software nor from printed pages of or created by this software, and you must attribute this software and it's printed creations in all forms and formats to Windustry. See the Windustry Terms of Use for further information.

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Economics

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.

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