Annual wind report confirms tech advancements, improved performance, and low energy prices

Annual wind report confirms tech advancements, improved performance, and low energy prices
Wind project performance chart. Credit: Berkeley Lab

Wind energy pricing remains attractive to utility and commercial purchasers, according to an annual report released by the U.S. Department of Energy and prepared by the Electricity Markets & Policy Group at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab). Prices offered by newly built wind projects are averaging around 2¢/kWh, driven lower by technology advancements and cost reductions.

"Wind energy prices—particularly in the central United States—are at rock-bottom levels, with utilities and corporate buyers selecting as the low-cost option," said Berkeley Lab Senior Scientist Ryan Wiser. "Moreover, enabled by technology advancements, wind projects are economically viable in a growing number of locations throughout the United States."

Key findings from the U.S. Department of Energy's reflective "Wind Technologies Market Report" include:

  • Wind power represented the largest source of U.S. electric-generating capacity additions in 2015. Wind power capacity additions in the United States surged in 2015, with $14.5 billion invested in 8.6 gigawatts (GW) of new capacity. Wind power constituted 41% of all U.S. generation capacity additions in 2015, up sharply from its 24% market share the year before and close to its all-time high. Wind power currently meets about 5% of the nation's electricity demand, and represents more than 10% of total electricity generation in twelve states, and more than 20% in three of those states.
  • Bigger turbines are enhancing wind project performance. Since 1998-99, the average capacity of wind turbines installed in the United States has increased by 180% (to 2.0 megawatts (MW) in 2015), the average turbine hub height has increased by 47% (to 82 meters), and the average rotor diameter has increased by 113% (to 102 meters). Moreover, turbines originally designed for lower wind speeds are now regularly deployed in higher wind speed sites, boosting project performance. Increased rotor diameters, in particular, have begun to dramatically increase wind project capacity factors. For example, the average 2015 capacity factor among projects built in 2014 reached 41%, compared to an average of 31% among projects built from 2004-2011 and 26% among projects built from 1998-2003.
  • Low wind turbine pricing continues to push down installed project costs. Wind turbine prices have fallen 20% to 40% from their temporary highs in 2008, and these declines are pushing project-level costs down. Wind projects built in 2015 had an average installed cost of $1,690/kilowatt(kW), down $640/kW from the temporary peak in 2009 and 2010.
  • Wind energy prices remain very low. Lower installed project costs, along with improvements in capacity factors, are enabling aggressive pricing. After topping out at nearly 7¢/kWh in 2009, the average levelized long-term price from wind power sales agreements has dropped to around 2¢/kWh—though this nationwide average is dominated by projects that largely hail from the lowest-priced central region of the country. Recently signed wind energy contracts compare favorably to projections of the fuel costs of gas-fired generation extending out through 2040. These low prices have spurred demand for wind energy, both from traditional electric utilities and also, increasingly, from non-utility purchasers like corporations, universities, and municipalities.
  • The manufacturing supply chain continued to adjust to swings in domestic demand for wind equipment. Wind sector employment reached a new high of 88,000 full-time workers at the end of 2015, and the profitability of turbine suppliers has generally rebounded over the last three years. For wind projects recently installed in the United States, domestically manufactured content is highest for nacelle assembly (>85%), towers (80-85%), and blades and hubs (50-70%), but is much lower (<20%) for components internal to the nacelle. Although there have been a number of recent manufacturing plant closures, each of the three major turbine manufacturers serving the U.S. market has one or more domestic manufacturing facilities in operation.

Annual wind report confirms tech advancements, improved performance, and low energy prices
Installed cost of wind chart. Credit: Berkeley Lab

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Study finds price of wind energy in US at an all-time low, averaging under 2.5 cent/kWh

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Aug 17, 2016
"Prices offered by newly built wind projects are averaging around 2¢/kWh, driven lower by technology advancements and cost reductions."

Good-bye nukes!

Compare that with the projected (and subject to increase), cost projections for the Kemper gasification plant, the Hinkley economic black holes, and the Vogtle money-pits.

Aug 17, 2016
Good-bye nukes!
welcome natural gas/fracking to smooth fluctuations on the grid caused by wind/solar eco-friendly landscape-destroyers.
"turns out wind and solar have a secret friend: natural gas"
"these solutions are neither sustainable nor possible in a carbon-free economy."

Aug 17, 2016

Wrong. We need power when we need it, not when the wind is blowing.

Better luck next time.

PS: % of German electricity from coal has not fallen. It has remained steady and so have German per capita emissions.

PS: And what is the actual amount of US electricity from wind? 1%? 2%?

Aug 17, 2016
You're losing, Roddie.

Go tell the utility engineers and accountants all about your theories. I am sure they will be impressed.

Aug 18, 2016

Good-bye nukes!

They're still here though, and for a long time until we find a way to create a ginormous amount of energy in a small amount of time in a limited space, or find a way to store near-infinite energy.
I do agree on that, renewables are getting more and more competitives and slowly becoming a viable alternative to nuclear plants. But we won't wake up tomorrow, not even next month with wind farms replacing a thirty year old nuclear plant.
If you want to say good bye, say it slowly, and take a long breath. It'll take some time to see them leave.

Aug 18, 2016
Eden, they are closing fast. And the new ones cost WAY too much to compete with any other source of power.

Hey, it was a great theory: "We can use them 3,000,000 degree Neutrons to boil water! Yup, then we can make steam and power." The dream turned to nightmare in reality. Now we are stuck with tens of thousands of tons of highly-radioactive and exothermic poisons which we cannot even store safely. Not such a good idea, was it?

Our newer developments are far saner and safer.

Aug 18, 2016
Our newer developments are far saner and safer.
if so why it is causing more environmental impact per unit of energy produced than carbon-free nuclear power?
"The dream turned to nightmare in reality" more applicable to renewables.

Aug 18, 2016
Three of us in a row now have PV panels and two on the other side of the street do, too. Our power displaces generation and pollution, and saves us money, as well. The power production is done locally, with no transmission losses or costs. And the power goes to our neighbors, so no losses there, either.

We cannot compare the nasty and dangerous nuclear power systems with these clean and cheaper and MUCH safer sources and still keep the nasty sources for much longer.

Aug 18, 2016
"Wind .. 2 MWe per km2"
"680 MWe .. spread over 340 km2 of land area (a square 18.4 x 18.4 km). ... this will consume ~1,250,000 tonnes of concrete and 335,000 tonnes of steel per day... Adding 1 day's energy storage using NaS batteries .. increases the mass of steel required to 455,000 tonnes per day.."

"solar .. 15 MWe per km2"
"680 MWe .. requiring (in an ideal desert location) 45 km2 of land (a square 6.7 x 6.7 km)... a 680 MWe build would equate to 2,215,000 tonnes of concrete, 690,000 tonnes of steel per day..."

nuclear .. thousands MWe per Km2
"To get 680 MWe average power, ...(This would require ~160,000 tonnes of concrete [based on 2.4 tonnes per cubic metre] and 10,000 tonnes of steel per day). Compare this to the figures for wind and solar thermal given above!"

nuclear power is much more compact and energy dense.

Aug 18, 2016
Show us a side by side comparison
"Nuclear Energy vs. Wind and Solar"
"Large wind and solar farms are in the embarrassing position of having to use gas-fired generators to smooth out the erratic flow of their intermittent energy."
"wind .. $26.7 Billion, CSP solar at $12.3 Billion, and a Gen-3+ Light Water Reactor at $4.03 Billion. The land, steel and concrete for the reactor is minuscule, the material for wind or solar is substantially more, and the land for the wind farm is enough to make you faint."
"A reactor has a 60-year service life. Renewables, not so much. .. wind turbines will last 20-25 years, and that CSP trough mirrors will last 30-40 years."

Aug 18, 2016
If Hinkley ever opens the projected cost of power is already twice current prices, and the thing is not even built yet. How much will it cost after the inevitable overruns?

And with Brexit, the conservatives shot themselves in the foot while it was still in their mouths. Now, they cannot afford Hinkley, since the drop in value of the Pound.

Aug 18, 2016
Cheapest solar around the world right now - is between 3 and 4 cents Kwh.
It is a nonsense to compare reliable carbon-free nuclear power with intermittent energy that is symbiotic with cheap natural gas/fracking. Ecologically, nuclear power is worth the price.

"Nuclear power is cost competitive with other forms of electricity generation, except where there is direct access to low-cost fossil fuels."
"In assessing the economics of nuclear power, decommissioning and waste disposal costs are fully taken into account."

Aug 18, 2016
... 2.91cents Kwh...
"batteries not included", cheap natural gas/fracking instead.

Aug 19, 2016
Predictable! 2.91 cents, and falling.
Unreliable intermittent energy, out-of-phase with demand, 0.00¢ is still expensive, highly dependent on fossil fuels; in Germany, people are being paid to consume this kind of fluctuating energy.
"..power prices went negative ...meaning commercial customers were being paid to consume electricity"
"Germany's electricity generation on windy and sunny days often exceeds by far the grid's balancing abilities, forcing the power surplus into the adjacent grids of neighboring countries, and obliging other countries to compensate for German intermittencies."
"..only be managed because utilities were obliged to cover these intermittencies by maintaining and running fossil power plants as backup source, in an uneconomic mode."

Aug 19, 2016
Willie can quote the costs for power from either Hinkley or Vogtle. It is his choice.

Aug 19, 2016
Predictable! 2.91 cents, and falling.
What are real costs of wind/solar? If energy storage is expensive and for each gigawatt it is needed around a gigawatt from fossil fuels to compensate intermittencies?
It seems cheap because wildlife's habitats can be taken for free with help of pseudo-environmentalists, vested political interests behind huge governmental subsidies, also low-cost fossil fuels are ever more available to mine/manufacture/transport and to compensate intermittency.

Aug 19, 2016
How is Britain phasing out coal - killing nukes - reducing their use of natural gas - and increasing their use of renewables?
Germany has failed; they are burning a lot of coal and other fossil fuels to smooth fluctuations on the grid caused by their eco-friendly bird-choppers/landscape-destroyers.
And do you believe Britain is being different? Indeed, pro-renewable cultists are completely out-of-sync with reality.

Aug 19, 2016
Nukes are dying. The ones in our own "midwest" are too costly to operate, but the utilities are now stuck with them. Most are trying to dump them on others, but nobody seems to want the liability.

The units being built all have some things in common: Immense cost and no way to store the waste.

And the threat of huge disaster.

Aug 19, 2016
OK they are getting 2 cents/KWH for the electricity produced. Lets do the math. 365 days x 12 hr/day= $88/year of gross income per KWH sold. At $1700/KWH of capacity it will take 19 years just to cover the installation costs. What is the expected lifetime of a wind turbine? Add to that $42/year for the cost of borrowing the money. Who knows what the maintenance and labor costs are during that period of time but lets say they are $50/year.
When the renewable industry starts to tell the public the true costs of green power I will start to become a believer. Until they do they are nothing more than scam artists.

Aug 19, 2016
I have to laugh when I see those "analyses" of the deniers. Our PV system will pay back in five years. That's 20% return on investment, and it will go up as prices go up. A cluster of five of us here have them (or in the process of doing it), and will power the neighborhood.

The other benefit is knowing we did our part, and put our money where our mouths were.

Many of the rest will disparage it until they get on board, as well. Then, they will complain about their EV since it was not their idea.

Aug 19, 2016
Then, they will complain about their EV since it was not their idea
But at least they will not brag about having PV and EV that they dont have, like george kamburoff.

Hey how come you offered pics of the PV on your neighbors roof as evidence that you own PV? Why not just provide pics of the PV on your own roof?

And how come DOT has no record of your EV?

I know - just provide a pic of you in your EV, parked in front of your PV roof on the house at the addy which shows on google maps.

Then everybody will leave you alone. If thats what you want which I doubt.

Aug 19, 2016
Is this really where it ends? Wind power is SOOOO cheap that it'll take 19 years to pay itself off, then it's free, but no one will talk about the cost of Nuclear? No one? Can the nuclear advocates do ANYTHING other than trashtalk the competition?

Solar energy. We've seen the numbers 100 times. It produces dirt cheap energy and pays for itself in 5-10 years.

Wind energy. We've seen the numbers 100 times. It's produces dirt cheap and reliable energy 24/7 and will pay for itself in (latest) 19 years.

Nuke power. The only numbers I have is from Darlington, and that cost 12.4 billion just to refit to keep it going for another 20 years at 4.8GW peak. Then more for the fuel, more for operating, more for construction, more for removal, more, more more. Nukes aren't cheap or clean.

Aug 19, 2016
"I know - just provide a pic of you in your EV, parked in front of your PV roof on the house at the addy which shows on google maps."

Sure, "otto". What is your name and email address?

Aug 19, 2016
"So MR - you have just shown us that wind turbines can produce electricity at a little over 2cents per Kwh - for 19 years. After that - they are paid for - and the power is virtually free - as you are only covering the maintenance cost."

Onions you are not counting the cost of interest, labor and maintenance during these 19 years. Then at the end of 19 years what is the remaining life expectancy of the turbines?

2 cents/KWH is little more than propaganda and if you truly believe that a company charging that little will not go bankrupt you are far removed from reality.

Aug 19, 2016
Not much to go wrong on a wind turbine, 166. And not much collateral damage, too. Compare that to a nuke.

Ask your questions about the nukes which are closing because they just cost too much to run. Even after being completely paid off, they cannot compete with wind or solar which carry the capital costs of construction and of financing.

Aug 19, 2016
wind .. the power is virtually free ..
Wind power is SOOOO cheap that it'll take 19 years to pay itself off, then it's free,...
Solar..It produces dirt cheap energy and pays for itself in 5-10 years...
Wind .. It's produces dirt cheap and reliable energy 24/7 and will pay for itself in (latest) 19 years...
When the renewable industry starts to tell the public the true costs of green power I will start to become a believer. Until they do they are nothing more than scam artists.
well said!

Aug 19, 2016
Look up at the wind turbines, Willie. They'll show you which way the wind's blowing.

Aug 19, 2016
Wind turbine life expectancy


Aug 20, 2016
Nuclear power has fared poorly in the marketplace, the victim, in particular, of cheap and abundant natural gas.
Renewable replacing fossil fuels is a joke. The big loser will be the mother earth, natural landscapes and wildlife's habitats overpopulated by eco-friendly wind/solar bird-choppers/landscape-destroyers backed by cheap natural gas/fracking.
Carbon-free nuclear power is the only hope.
"US CO2 Emissions From Natural Gas Will Top Coal in 2016"

Aug 20, 2016
It is not just utility fuel we save with our PV panels, we also power the automobile with them, which cuts our payback period by a factor of three. These integrations will change our system in a decade. We decided against the Home Nuke for cost, complexity of operation, safety, and waste disposal reasons.

Aug 20, 2016
It is interesting how the technologies are playing out. Those which are dying seem to try making them bigger or smaller, anything to keep on going. But their disadvantages keep piling up to now, when they are neither cost-effective or even sufficiently safe.

The new huge monsters we are building are the T Rexes of the energy world, and doomed to die expensively. There may be some nasty thrashing around if the designs are not right.

Aug 20, 2016
All for this kind of energy generation so long as they never appear on a horizon I can never see or hear the downstroke sounds of wooommmpppp, wooommmpp, wooommpp from those blades & how those harmonics can drive the human psyche into a frenzied state.

Kudos to the people living in a beautiful valley area 20 miles from where I live who managed to kill a 40 turbine installation at the hilltops overlooking the valley in which they spent an average of over 500k to build energy efficient homes, taxes they pay are huge, but for the solitude of a rural lifestyle they were willing to pay them.

The same developer next rammed through their town council his hideous proposals to build & got approval & immediately began raping old growth timber from the hillsides overlooking the valley & started concrete foundations for the towers, all this right next to a wildlife sanctuary for bald eagles & other raptors. A court order put an end to the destruction.

Aug 20, 2016
Benni you have elucidated many fine points in your post. Wind power is not free and does have many harmful effects to man and nature that are mysteriously ignored by the green movement, IE Soros and the huge environmental lobby.

Aug 20, 2016
PPAs are post-subsidy. None of the turbines actually produce electricity at 2 cents per kWh - that's simply the price the utilities are willing to pay for it.

ALL the wind power projects in the US and pretty much universally around the world are built on either feed-in-tariffs or tax rebates, which makes the PPAs not reflect the real cost of it. The US federal government pays an average of $23/MWh for wind according to the EIA, plus local state subsidies and other green credits, like selling carbon offsets.

The real price is still between 5-7 cents/kWh before transmission.

Aug 20, 2016

Correction, the EIA figure for wind power subsidy was $35/MWh or 3.5 cents per kWh in 2013.

I haven't got later information, but the figure is not likely to go down. The "temporary" PTC subsidy has been revived 7 times already and currently expires somewhere around 2020, and all wind projects started before that date get the same subsidy.

It's hardly relevant to look at Power Purchasing Agreements (PPA) to determine the price of wind power when there simply are no non-subsidized utility scale wind projects in the US.

Aug 20, 2016
"I know - just provide a pic of you in your EV, parked in front of your PV roof on the house at the addy which shows on google maps."

Sure, "otto". What is your name and email address?
So youre saying youll only be honest to people who expose themselves in public like you did? Hmmm... an identity thief would say the same thing wouldnt he? But is it stealing if guys like george kamburoff give him what he wants willingly?

Send your pics to the same place you sent that pic of your neighbors roof and your MS lifetime achievement award.

Or post it on your very excellent website or your linkedin page so everybody can see it.

DO it.

Whatsamatter georgie, SCARED of the truth?

We already know what the truth is. You love to lie.

The REAL george kamburoff is a gutless phony.

Aug 20, 2016
You and Willie just repeat the same shit over and over. Yes wind gets subsidies - as do ALL energy sources.

Yes, but wind energy produces the least electricity per dollar paid (after solar). For example:


coal got around 10% of the energy subsidies and made ~40% of the electricity in the US, while wind power got ~40% of the subsidies and made around 2% (!) of the electricity.

There are several issues:
1) renewable energy subsidies are tied to the amount of energy produced, so they increase as more energy is produced

2) many of the fossil fuel subsidies are actually loan guarantees or insurance guarantees, that simply save both the government and the producer money because they allow for cheaper capital

3) the majority of the fossil fuel subsides are actually countries like Iran or China subsidizing fuels for their citizens. They're just lumped in for show.

Aug 20, 2016
The new huge monsters we are building are the T Rexes of the energy world, and doomed to die expensively.
right! large solar farms, landscape-destroyers, behemoth medieval windmills, all these huge green monsters should be left in the past.
The greenies' best hope is the gskam's rooftop pv technology that is able to convert their lies into electricity to power their EV and the whole world uninterruptedly 24/7/365.

Aug 20, 2016
Thank you for that Eikka post. The real problem is that many of the people on this site have paid 10s if not 100s of thousands in student loans for the privilege of becoming indoctrinated by their educational system. Thus, any data that opposes the teachings that they so dearly paid for is automatically discounted.

Aug 20, 2016
Why do you not whine about the subsidies to fossil fuels

Whatabouttism - appeal to other problems. Why would I need to address EVERY problem in order to address one problem?

You are blatant hypocrites.

Appealing to hypocricy is simply admitting that both are in the wrong. It does not excuse the original fault.

but then support the fuel source that is the most dependent on BIG government (nukes). You have no credibility.

FYI I do not support production subsidies or price fixing for nuclear power either. That is simply your strawman. It is also a strawman that nuclear energy necessarily needs ridiculous subsidies such as the Hinkley Point station - which is a combination of the incompetence of Areva and the desperation of the Brits to have a new nuclear station for energy security.

Aug 20, 2016
No they don't - so you are either a liar, or ignorant - and either way you have no credibility on this issue. Here is the break down of how the ptc is being phased out -

I admit ignorance for not checking the subsidy levels and clearly said so ("I haven't got later information"), so it's rather poor of you to accuse me of lying.

However, since the full subsidy applies to this year, all the wind farms in the US in production today are still recieving the full PTC and there's no way their output really costs 2 cents a kWh - THAT is the real lie.

We'll see how that turns out from here. The PTC has been revived over and over again just as it's about to expire, and if the subsidies threaten to drop too low, I'm sure they'll whip up another different subsidy scheme that leapfrogs the old one.

Aug 20, 2016
Fossil fuels can get subsidies for hundreds of years - and not a peep

Why do you demand people in the past to make an issue about something that wasn't an issue for the people in the past? Or for the matter of historical subsidies for fossil fuels going back hundreds of years - what do you want people to do? Invent a time machine and make them go away?

You're being absurd.

We can't change what has already happened, so there's no point crying about it.

And the whole argument of "fossil fuels got so much" is irrelevant anyhow. If you don't agree with subsidies in the first place, on the point that they were money wasted, what you're saying is simply "I want renewable energy to be a trillion dollar money sink too!"

Certainly the industry prefers to get paid as much as possible for the least effort possible.

I'd rather have cheap reliable electricity without hidden costs.

Aug 20, 2016
Here's a rather candid observation from one of the largest investors in renewable energy:

"I will do anything that is basically covered by the law to reduce Berkshire's tax rate," Buffet told an audience in Omaha, Nebraska recently. "For example, on wind energy, we get a tax credit if we build a lot of wind farms. That's the only reason to build them. They don't make sense without the tax credit."


Combined with other targeted incentives, the federal government gives wind producers $56.29 per megawatt-hour, according to the Energy Information Administration. Natural gas, oil and coal power, by comparison, only get 64 cents, while nuclear power receives $3.14.


Aug 20, 2016
Profit is not the only reason to do something.

Aug 20, 2016
It's very disihonest to complain about fossil fuel subsidies when the actual subsidies paid per kWh are 20+ times less than the subsidies paid for wind power, and for renewable energy in general.

Yes, it is lamentable that the governments are still subsidizing forms of energy that should be phased out as soon as possibe, but in an apples-to-apples comparison the difference is night and day.

This is the reason why nobody has made a peep in the 200-year history of fossil fuels - the amount of energy gained from fossil fuels has completely eclipsed the amount of public money paid for it, so it's been practically a non-issue in regards of the free market. Some ultra-libertarian may have complained, but the rest just thought it was a good deal.

When it came to renewable energy subsidies, the only way things like wind or solar energy can exist on the market at all is by subsidies - without subsidies all the wind turbines would simply go away.

Aug 20, 2016
"Profit is not the only reason to do something."
Well if you are not enjoying the luxury of of a government subsidy then it pretty much is unless you are among the wealthy few,

Aug 20, 2016
Does 166 resent the costly NRC, put there as a subsidy from us to the nuke industry?

What is its budget?

Aug 20, 2016
Profit is not the only reason to do something.

Then it's a charade & becomes a bottomless moneypit.

When the turbine project I spoke of above was canceled, it was because of the charades of the developer who due to his political connections, was able to hide Freedom of Information Act data from review by the local citizenry through his lawyers shenanigans.

It wasn't until the affected property owners got their own team of lawyers together & revealed to the Town Council the true costs of continuing to go forth with the project would cost the town & that the payback would require 10-15 years due to the tax exemptions the town was willing to grant.

After the first tower foundation went in, one homeowner turned on his water on all floors in December & went to Florida to live out the winter. The house was wasted & had to be demolished the following Spring, others threatened to follow suit. The town faced with tax revenue losses revoked the construction permit.

Aug 20, 2016
you do not complain about the subsidies to fossil fuels
........What subsidies? Day to day business expense deductions are not "subsidies".

So shame on you Greeno for taking property tax deduction on your 1040, or for taking mortgage interest rate deduction on the costs of that loan.

Aug 21, 2016
.......What subsidies?
G20 countries are spending $452 billion US a year subsidizing their fossil fuel industries and are undermining the world's effort to combat climate change in the process, according to a new international report by an environmental advocacy group.

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