Costs for a wind power plant

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The investment costs of wind power plants have also decreased during the past

few years. On one hand, costs for wind power plants with the same capacity have decreased. On the other hand, the rated power of wind turbines has grown rapidly during the same time. This reduces the incidental expenses per kilowatt. Figure 6.2 shows the sale prices and rated powers of wind turbines in two different years. However, the price conditions vary between different turbine designs.

Besides the pure cost of the wind turbine, investment costs include costs for planning, installation, foundations, mains connection and transport. These costs are only partly included in the values of Figure 6.2. These incidental expenses are on average 34.5 per cent of the wind turbine sale price, but can be much higher for smaller systems. Operating costs consists of land rent, maintenance, repair and insurance costs.

The total investment cost for a wind turbine in the 1.5 MW range is currently between €1000/kW and €1600/kW depending on the site and the required infrastructure expenses. Using €1200/kW for a 1.5-MW turbine, the investment cost A0 is €1,800,000. The annual operating costs are usually between 2 and 3 per cent of the investment costs, so annual operating costs Ai of about €50,000 must be considered.

A 1.5 MW turbine at a site with a wind speed of just under 7 m/s at hub height, corresponding to 4.5 m/s at 10 m, can generate about Ea = 3.5 million kWh per year. Assuming an operating period of 20 years for the wind turbine, the calculations become:

Ctot = A0 + 20 • Ai = €1,800,000 + 20 • €50,000 = €2,800,000

Table 6.3 Annual Energy Gain for Wind Power Plants of Different Sizes and Different Wind Speeds vhub

System size

Annual energy gain in MWhJa

Table 6.3 Annual Energy Gain for Wind Power Plants of Different Sizes and Different Wind Speeds vhub

System size

Annual energy gain in MWhJa

Rotor

Power (kW)

vhub = 5 m/s

6 m/s

7 m/s

8 m/s

9 m/s

30 m

200

320

500

670

820

950

40 m

500

610

970

1360

1730

2050

55 m

1000

1150

1840

2570

3280

3920

65 m

1500

1520

2600

3750

4860

5860

80 m

2500

2380

4030

5830

7600

9220

120 m

5000

5300

9000

13,000

17,000

20,000

These costs, excluding return on capital, are close to the costs of conventional power plants. Renewable energy sources legislative acts in Germany and Spain guarantee a payment for wind-generated electricity of above €0.06/kWh. This has made wind power competitive at many sites without any further subsidies and initiated the present wind power boom.

However, at average sites with a wind speed below 5 m/s at 10 m height, wind turbines can normally be operated economically only with grants since the annual energy gain decreases significantly as shown in Table 6.3. The table also shows that the energy gain relative to the power rating also increases with the turbine size. The higher hub height of large systems is the main reason behind this. Theoretically, small turbines can also be installed with higher hub heights but this usually makes the economics worse. Larger system sizes also offer the potential for future cost reduction.

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Renewable Energy 101

Renewable Energy 101

Renewable energy is energy that is generated from sunlight, rain, tides, geothermal heat and wind. These sources are naturally and constantly replenished, which is why they are deemed as renewable. The usage of renewable energy sources is very important when considering the sustainability of the existing energy usage of the world. While there is currently an abundance of non-renewable energy sources, such as nuclear fuels, these energy sources are depleting. In addition to being a non-renewable supply, the non-renewable energy sources release emissions into the air, which has an adverse effect on the environment.

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