IEA Wind Report
April 6, 2011
NREL analysts Paul Schwabe and Maureen Hand, along with Sander Lensink of Energy Research Center of the Netherlands, recently published the report "IEA Wind Task 26 — Multi-national Case Study of the Financial Cost of Wind Energy; Work Package 1 Final Report." The lifetime cost of wind energy is comprised of a number of components including the investment cost, operation and maintenance costs, financing costs, and annual energy production. Accurate representation of these cost streams is critical in estimating a wind plant's cost of energy. Some of these cost streams will vary over the life of a given project. From the outset of project development, investors in wind energy have relatively certain knowledge of the plant's lifetime cost of wind energy. This is because a wind energy project's installed costs and mean wind speed are known early on, and wind generation generally has low variable operation and maintenance costs, zero fuel cost, and no carbon emissions cost. Despite these inherent characteristics, there are wide variations in the cost of wind energy internationally, which is the focus of this report. Using a multi-national case-study approach, this work seeks to understand the sources of wind energy cost differences among seven countries under International Energy Agency (IEA) Wind Task 26 — Cost of Wind Energy. The participating countries in this study include Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States. Due to data availability, onshore wind energy is the primary focus of this study, though a small sample of reported offshore cost data is also included.