Wind Power Economics: Past, Present, and Future Trends: A WPA Webinar
December 14, 2011
This was an added webinar to the U.S. Department of Energy's Wind Powering America 2011 webinar series.
Wind turbine prices in the United States have declined, on average, by nearly one-third since 2008, after doubling from 2002 through 2008. Over this entire period, the average nameplate capacity rating, hub height, and rotor swept area of turbines installed in the United States have increased significantly, while other design improvements have also boosted turbine energy production. In combination, these various trends have had a significant—and sometimes surprising—impact on the levelized cost of energy delivered by wind projects.
This webinar featured three related presentations that explore these historical trends and provide insight on what the future may hold. Mark Bolinger of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory covered highlights from the recent Lawrence Berkeley report Understanding Trends in Wind Turbine Prices Over the Past Decade, focusing in part on turbine scaling as a critical turbine price driver. Ryan Wiser of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory demonstrated that—despite putting upward pressure on turbine prices—turbine scaling and other design improvements over this period have provided a net benefit in terms of the cost of wind generation, and that with today's lower turbine prices, the cost of wind generation from soon-to-be-built plants is lower than it has been in years. Finally, Eric Lantz of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory discussed the potential for further technology-based cost reductions, assuming ongoing turbine scaling and full realization of opportunities for technology improvement.