Just How Much Does a Wind Turbine Cost?
Wind experts quickly distinguish customers well schooled from novices by listening to their questions. Naturally, everybody wants to know how much a wind turbine will cost, how much it will cost to generate a kilowatt hour of electricity from a wind turbine, how that cost compares with fuel-burning generators, and how long it will take for a wind turbine to pay for itself in reduced utility bills. But only a beginner comes right out and asks the question. Well-schooled shoppers have learned that the simple question about cost, like most things wind-powered, defies a simple answer.
So, How Much Will That Wind Turbine Cost?
How much does a wind turbine cost? our windsmith repeats the question. How much do you have? our windsmith smiles when his prospective clients look quizzically into his poker face. For a wind turbine novice, the question seems somewhere between nonsensical and funny. For our windsmith, the question seems perfectly reasonable, because the first rule of wind energy stipulates, Bigger is better.
How much does a wind turbine cost? our windsmith repeats the question once more for emphasis, Well, with wind energy, our windsmith explains, reassuring his novice clients, you can make your towers and generators mighty big and mighty powerful, running your wind turbine cost into the millions of dollars. I'm guessing that's not exactly what you have in mind, but I must tell you, with wind energy you get what you pay for, and you are not saving any money by trying to do it on the cheap. Sensing our windsmith has given-up joking and is working toward the bottom line; his clients give him their full attention.
With wind energy, you achieve tremendous economies of scale, our windsmith rephrases the idea of bigger is better. Take it as a hard-and-fast rule: Wind energy grows increasingly cost-effective as your tower-size increases and your sweep expands.
Our windsmith gives examples. Double the height of your tower, and you increase your generation between ten and twenty percent; triple your tower's height and you increase your production between fifty and sixty percent. Production grows geometrically with each height increase. Similarly, every increase in sweep geometrically increases your production, driving down your cost per kilowatt-hour. Increasing each turbine blade by a foot adds very little to the cost of construction, and it radically lowers the cost of generating electricity.
Considering the wind turbine's maintenance costs over the course of its working life, wind-power planners easily can balance minor increases in construction costs against substantial savings in repair and replacement. Upgrading the units blades from stainless steel alloys to carbon-ceramic composites, for example, adds several thousand dollars to the cost of each blade-set, but composite blades will outperform steel blades by ten to twenty per cent, and they will remain in service for twice as long as steel blades, because they do not fatigue.
Subsidizing Wind Turbine Cost
The United States and Canadian governments have offered tremendous tax incentives and other financial considerations for people and corporations serious about constructing wind turbines. Capitalizing on subsidies, tax breaks, and record-low interest rates, would-be builders probably can erect a community-sized wind farm for forty percent of what it would have cost just a couple of years ago. The supply and demand curves have gone out of whack, benefitting builders ready to break ground right away-shovel ready as they say.