capacity factor, definition of

Capacity Factor

Capacity factor is a ratio (usually expressed as a percentage) of power actually generated by an installed wind turbine compared to its theoretical maximum power output.

This is important as the available wind varies considerably by location and you want to pick a location that ensures maximum utilization. Although typically the maximum capacity factor achieved in practice is around 30%. This can be compared to the typical capacity factors of 15% for solar and nuclear which ranges in 60 to 100%. Base load thermal power plants (i.e. fire fired) often achieve 70 to 90%.

When capacity factor is combined with cost of production you get the effective cost of power production for a given energy producing technology; i.e. cost divided by capacity factor. This figure you can use as a basis for a ROI (Return on Investment) comparison.

News & Blog articles where 'capacity factor' used:
  • A MODEST SUGGESTION REGARDING RENEWABLE ENERGY
    By KEVIN KILTY, Introduction This past March 12 the Center of the American Experiment (CAE) released a study of projected power costs for Minnesota on the basis of its new policy mandating 50% renewable energy by year 20301...
  • Walport’s UK Energy Fantasy Does Not Add Up
    By Paul Homewood Bishop Hill  had a post the other day, about a presentation on climate change given to the cabinet by Chief Scientist, Sir Mark Walport, seen at right...

Related Tags: renewable energy, wind power, solar, wind farms

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