As discussed on a wide array, wind energy is the cleanest resource that in abundantly available across any place. But areas where it is above a certain pressure point can be harvested for the electricity production. This is done with the help of wind turbines. The overall cost of land, wind turbines, its transportation and installation, all together contributes to the cost of wind energy.
Wind energy had a wide spread use since the early days, even though not for electricity production. Later, wind mills gave a way for wind turbines for generating electricity. But cost of wind turbines was posing a huge question to the entire society. As the researches and studies developed, it helped to a great extend in reducing the cost of wind turbines.
Cost of wind turbines
As we have learnt about wind farms; they can be small for homes and large for commercial use. The cost likewise varies depending on its size. The small wind farms will be of less cost but it can make the expense per kilowatt of electricity higher. The productivity of a wind turbine and the number of wind turbines are interlinked with the cost of wind turbines.
Let us see the cost of wind turbines for a home and for commercial use separately.
Wind turbines for home
A home may require a wind turbine of 5 KW on an average, while a home requirement is somewhere between 2 KW and 10 KW. Cost of installation for a home is around $25000 and $30000, which can change according to the home requirements. A regular small wind turbine of 1 KW will be costing between $4000- $ 9000 and a 100 KW big wind turbine which is used for commercial purpose can cost more than $ 350000.
The cost of wind turbines can step down on applying the tax exemptions and grants for installing wind turbines.
Wind turbines for commercial purpose
The cost of wind turbines have fallen down compared to the previous years. In a commercial wind farm a wind turbine may be of 2 megawatt, which cost around $1 million-$ 2 million. But expense per kilowatt of electricity will be less due to the high productivity of wind turbines in commercial farms. When the wind turbines are being used for commercial purpose it will be mainly spread out as wind farms.
As studied in the topic Wind farms, we know that there are two kinds of wind farms; namely:
- On shore wind farms
- Off shore wind farms
Off shore wind farms have been installed in Europe countries on a large scale. The main attraction of off shore wind farms are:
- Higher productivity
- High pressure wind
- No wastage of land
- Better government policies support
But the off shore wind farms cost are more and heavier than that of on shore wind turbines. On shore wind farms being fixed on a floor, a less costly whereas wind turbines in the sea are floating kind and also has to withstand all aquatic currents. Therefore, it will be of high cost.
Comparative Study: Small and big wind turbines
While considering the productivity of power in KW, the large wind turbine scores as the small wind turbines are less efficient. But small wind turbines are worth and proved capable for electricity storage. Small wind turbines do not depend on grid system and thus mainly will be using generators that help in storing electricity.
Small wind turbines are usually a one man army that fights alone; it works as a single unit where as several large wind turbines work together in a wind farm on a grid system to give out a great productivity. Thus the small wind turbine installation is always an issue in determining wind resource.
The heights of small wind turbines are another factor that increases its cost. Generally, small wind turbines are preferred to be in great height for avoiding any hindrance to wind. The more the height, the more expensive the wind turbines are.
Factors that contribute to cost of wind energy
The major factors that play a vital role in deciding the cost of wind turbines are:
- Capital Cost
- Operation Cost
- Maintenance Cost
Capital Cost : Capital costs are costs that cover the price of wind turbine, its logistics, installations etc. Wind turbine itself may cover a 75% of the capital costs. Thus the fall in the cost of wind turbines can bring in a high impact on capital cost.
Operation Cost: Operation costs of new technology wind turbines are much less compared to the older ones. A wind turbine is said to have a normal life span of 20 years. As wind is free and abundant there is nothing that attributes to the operational cost, except in case of the batteries used or the like.
Maintenance Cost: Maintenance cost, like operational cost is much less till a period of time. Keeping aside the regular yearly maintenance cost, due to the running of wind turbines on a regular basis, there will not be any unexpected maintenance unless and until the wind turbine reaches its expiry or a natural calamine.
Maintenance and operational cost is expected to be only around 2% of the total investment.
Capacity: the higher wind turbines are said to have high productivity as wind resource will not have any hindrance when on heights and also pressure of wind will be high. The higher the wind turbines the higher the cost will be. Thus it is also a factor that contributes to the cost of wind turbines.
Why cost of wind energy declines?
It is a declared fact that the cost of wind turbines are decreasing year to year. Let us find what the main factors that led to the decline are:
Due to the awareness of advantages of wind energy the demand of it has gone a sudden break through. This demand invited many companies in to the wind energy business and installations. Thus, the competition in pricing has also developed which had brought in a healthy pricing of wind turbines.
- New materials and techniques
The new researches and studies led to the discovery of new techniques and new raw materials that are much efficient and also cheap. It has helped in the decline of the cost.
- Government grants
Government have brought in new schemes and subsidies for installing of wind turbines which has encouraged people to install them on a large scale. It also helped in making the demand of wind energy to rise.
The cost of wind turbines and its installations are always a disadvantage to the wind power, making it very expensive. But when we have all the threat like depletion of fossil fuels, it’s after effects, pollution etc., wind energy is definitely a blessing for the world. We have seen the decline of its cost year by year. May be after a 10 more years the existing cost will decline bringing it to an affordable price. There by making any common man to use the wind power, resulting in a green earth.