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22082011

# Wind Power at least 6 times more expensive.

12:59pm 22nd August 2011
When wind power is compared on a pure cost for watt basis it turns out to be at least 6 times more expensive than other established technologies.

### Is wind power expensive?

In oder to answer this question we need to find some figures giving the power to cost ratio. A recent article on the viability of wind power in Malta provide the necessary figures:
• Total cost of project 300 million Euro
• Total power generated 200 gigawatt-hours (Gwh) per year == 22.8 Megawatt per hour (divide by days and hours in a year)
Now for the more traditional power generation, in this case hydro (which some consider the greenest way to generate power), we can look at this article about a dam being built at Red Rock Reservoir in South central Iowa. The figures are:
• \$220 million total cost
• Output will be 36 megawatts with a peak of 55 megawatts when the power is high.
Now, lets convert Euros to Canadian dollars which about 1.4 times - so the 300 million Euro becomes \$420 million.

Now the ratios:
•  Hydro cost per megawatt = \$4m to \$6.1m
•  Wind farm cost per megawatt = \$18.4m
Now given that wind farms have a different MTTF (mean time to failure) which is a lot shorter than a hydro facility, a known issue with wind farms in the industry, say less than half the period, you could incur costs with wind farms in maintenance at a higher level and sooner than with hydro.

### Conclusion

I reckon on a cost comparison basis wind farms are anywhere from 6 to 9 times more expensive than an hydro for the same power output. Now I know this is 'rough' and based on a limited data set - but to have such a clear cost difference on such major projects indicates that this is no 'fluke'.

### Food for thought..

Now the funny thing here is that the Hydro plant is being installed in Iowa - a State that just got to 20% of its power from wind farms - if wind farms were so darn good, why are they building a hydro plant? Maybe they need a reliable base load power source for when the wind does not blow; so in effect they are spending at least 6 times over for that wind power when they could have gone completely hydro (assuming availability). This is why I'm all for more hydro, it just makes good sense.

### Update - capacity factor looks like it is taken into account

Unless I'm missing something from the wind farm report they expect to generate 200,000 MW a year from up to 24 wind turbines with up to 126 meters diameter - I make that 0.95Mw/h 24x7. I reckon at 126 meters in diameter that's a 5MW turbine - so they are running about 20% capacity factor - which is typical.

Related Content Tags: wind power, wind farms, hydro

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