Wind Energy Economy: The Numbers Tendency

Wind generators consume virtually no fossil fuel. A 1 MW wind turbine for the 20 years of operation saves about 29 thousand tons of coal or 92 thousand barrels of oil. The price of electricity produced by wind turbines depends on wind speed:

Cost of wind speed (US, 2004)

7.16 m/c 4,8 cents/kWh;

8.08 m/s 3.6 cents/kWh;

9.32 m/s 2.6 cents/kWh.

For comparison, the cost of electricity generated from coal varied in the range of 4.5-6 cents/kWh in the US. The average cost of electricity in China equaled 4 cents per kWh.

By doubling the wind power capacity the electricity produced is improved by 15%. Today, in comparison with the previous period 10 years ago wind energy became almost 160% cheaper. Interestingly, in the early 80s the cost of wind electricity in the US was estimated at $0.38.

In March 2006, Earth Policy Institute (USA) reported that in the two parts of the US the cost of wind power has become less than the cost of traditional energy. In the fall of 2005 due to rising prices for natural gas and coal the cost of wind electricity has become less than the cost of electricity produced from all the conventional sources. Austin Energy Companies in Texas and Xcel Energy in Colorado were the first ones to sell electricity generated from wind cheaper than electricity generated from conventional sources.

Functionality aspects

Wind energy sources are unregulated, which is a huge benefit for business developers. The success of wind farm development largely depends on the wind strength – an absolutely crucial factor. Accordingly, the issue of electricity from the wind turbine to the grid is characterized by large inequalities in daily and weekly, monthly, annual and long-term perspective. Given that the power system itself has load fluctuations (power peaks and dips), which regulate wind power, of course, the introduction of a significant proportion of wind power into the power system may promote its destabilization. It is clear that wind power requires a reserve power (e.g. in the form of gas turbine power plants), as well as mechanisms for smoothing the heterogeneity of its production (in the form of hydroelectric or PSP stations). Thus, the aspect has an impact on the cost of wind energy. Various power systems with great reluctance connect to turbines to the grid, which in turn led to the legislation, forcing the companies to do it.

Fortunately for many business, the maintenance costs are slowly but steadily decreased. Therefore, such industry sharks as Granada Material Handling report of price reduction by 17% in the latest two years for its hardware wind turbine services as well as wind turbine inspections.

Problems in networks and dispatching power systems due to the instability of wind turbines start working after they have reached a share in 20-25% of the total installed capacity of the system. However, according to the Spanish companies Gamesa Eolica and WinWind the accuracy forecast of energy produced by wind farm planning with hourly market day-ahead or spot mode exceeds 95%.