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Wind Energy Costs Expected to Continue Decline

Nov. 3, 2016

Berkeley Lab study shows expected price declines up to 30% by 2030. 

Technological advancements have continued to drive down the price of wind energy. Wind power experts from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) estimate cost reductions of 24%–30% by 2030 and 35%–41% by 2050.

Berkeley Lab found five key components that impact––– the cost of wind projects, according to a study conducted by Ryan Wiser, a Senior Scientist at Berkeley Lab:

  1. Up-front capital cost
  2. Ongoing operating costs
  3. Cost of financing
  4. Performance
  5. Project design life

Recent years have seen significant decreases in up-front costs of wind energy as well as increases in wind project performance, as measured by the capacity of wind facilities. Experts foresee sustained improvements in these two overall cost drivers, with an additional factor—the overall size of wind turbines.

For onshore wind, growth is expected to increase in capacity factors—rotor diameters (135 meters by 2030) and hub heights (115 meters by 2030). Fixed-bottom offshore wind turbines are expected to grow even larger, to 11 MW on average in 2030, helping to reduce up-front installed costs.

“Onshore wind technology is fairly mature, but further advancements are on the horizon—and not only in reduced up-front costs,” says Wiser. “Experts anticipate a wide range of advancements that will increase project performance, extend project design lives, and lower operational expenses.”

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