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# Wind power

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 Title: Wind power Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia Language: English Subject: Collection: Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia Publication Date:

### Wind power

Wind power stations in Xinjiang, China
Global growth of installed capacity[1]

Wind power is extracted from air flow using wind turbines or sails to produce mechanical or electrical power. Windmills are used for their mechanical power, windpumps for water pumping, and sails to propel ships. Wind power as an alternative to fossil fuels, is plentiful, renewable, widely distributed, clean, produces no greenhouse gas emissions during operation, and uses little land.[2] The net effects on the environment are far less problematic than those of nonrenewable power sources.

Wind farms consist of many individual wind turbines which are connected to the electric power transmission network. Onshore wind is an inexpensive source of electricity, competitive with or in many places cheaper than coal or gas plants.[3][4][5] Offshore wind is steadier and stronger than on land, and offshore farms have less visual impact, but construction and maintenance costs are considerably higher. Small onshore wind farms can feed some energy into the grid or provide electricity to isolated off-grid locations.[6]

Wind power is very consistent from year to year but has significant variation over shorter time scales. It is therefore used in conjunction with other electric power sources to give a reliable supply. As the proportion of windpower in a region increases, a need to upgrade the grid, and a lowered ability to supplant conventional production can occur.[7][8] Power management techniques such as having excess capacity, geographically distributed turbines, dispatchable backing sources, sufficient hydroelectric power, exporting and importing power to neighboring areas, using vehicle-to-grid strategies or reducing demand when wind production is low, can in many cases overcome these problems.[9][10] In addition, weather forecasting permits the electricity network to be readied for the predictable variations in production that occur.[11][12][13]

As of 2014, Denmark has been generating around 40% of its electricity from wind,[14][15] and at least 83 other countries around the world are using wind power to supply their electricity grids.[16] Wind power capacity has expanded to 369,553 MW by December 2014,[17] and total wind energy production is growing rapidly and has reached around 4% of worldwide electricity usage.[18]

## Contents

• History 1
• Wind farms 2
• Generator characteristics and stability 2.1
• Offshore wind power 2.2
• Collection and transmission network 2.3
• Wind power capacity and production 3
• Growth trends 3.1
• Capacity factor 3.2
• Penetration 3.3
• Variability 3.4
• Predictability 3.5
• Energy storage 3.6
• Capacity credit, fuel savings and energy payback 3.7
• Economics 4
• Electricity cost and trends 4.1
• Incentives and community benefits 4.2
• Small-scale wind power 5
• Environmental effects 6
• Politics 7
• Central government 7.1
• Public opinion 7.2
• Community 7.3
• Turbine design 8
• Wind energy 9
• Gallery 10
• Notes 12
• References 13
• Further reading 14
• External links 15

## History

Charles Brush's windmill of 1888, used for generating electricity.

Wind power has been used as long as humans have put sails into the wind. For more than two millennia wind-powered machines have ground grain and pumped water. Wind power was widely available and not confined to the banks of fast-flowing streams, or later, requiring sources of fuel. Wind-powered pumps drained the polders of the Netherlands, and in arid regions such as the American mid-west or the Australian outback, wind pumps provided water for live stock and steam engines.

The first windmill used for the production of electricity was built in Scotland in July 1887 by Prof James Blyth of Anderson's College, Glasgow (the precursor of Strathclyde University).[19] Blyth's 10 m high, cloth-sailed wind turbine was installed in the garden of his holiday cottage at Marykirk in Kincardineshire and was used to charge accumulators developed by the Frenchman Camille Alphonse Faure, to power the lighting in the cottage,[19] thus making it the first house in the world to have its electricity supplied by wind power.[20] Blyth offered the surplus electricity to the people of Marykirk for lighting the main street, however, they turned down the offer as they thought electricity was "the work of the devil."[19] Although he later built a wind turbine to supply emergency power to the local Lunatic Asylum, Infirmary and Dispensary of Montrose the invention never really caught on as the technology was not considered to be economically viable.[19]

Across the Atlantic, in Cleveland, Ohio a larger and heavily engineered machine was designed and constructed in the winter of 1887–1888 by Charles F. Brush,[21] this was built by his engineering company at his home and operated from 1886 until 1900.[22] The Brush wind turbine had a rotor 17 m (56 foot) in diameter and was mounted on an 18 m (60 foot) tower. Although large by today's standards, the machine was only rated at 12 kW. The connected dynamo was used either to charge a bank of batteries or to operate up to 100 incandescent light bulbs, three arc lamps, and various motors in Brush's laboratory.[23]

With the development of electric power, wind power found new applications in lighting buildings remote from centrally-generated power. Throughout the 20th century parallel paths developed small wind stations suitable for farms or residences, and larger utility-scale wind generators that could be connected to electricity grids for remote use of power. Today wind powered generators operate in every size range between tiny stations for battery charging at isolated residences, up to near-gigawatt sized offshore wind farms that provide electricity to national electrical networks.

## Wind farms

Large onshore wind farms
Wind farm Current
capacity
(MW)
Country Refs
Gansu Wind Farm 6,000  China [24][25]
Alta (Oak Creek-Mojave) 1,320  United States [26]
Jaisalmer Wind Park 1,064  India [27]
Shepherds Flat Wind Farm 845  United States [28]
Roscoe Wind Farm 782  United States [29]
Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center 736  United States [30][31]
Capricorn Ridge Wind Farm 662  United States [30][31]
Fântânele-Cogealac Wind Farm 600  Romania [32]
Fowler Ridge Wind Farm 600  United States [33]
Whitelee Wind Farm 539  United Kingdom [34]

A wind farm is a group of wind turbines in the same location used for production of electricity. A large wind farm may consist of several hundred individual wind turbines distributed over an extended area, but the land between the turbines may be used for agricultural or other purposes. For example, Gansu Wind Farm, the largest wind farm in the world, has several thousand turbines. A wind farm may also be located offshore.

Almost all large wind turbines have the same design — a horizontal axis wind turbine having an upwind rotor with three blades, attached to a nacelle on top of a tall tubular tower.

In a wind farm, individual turbines are interconnected with a medium voltage (often 34.5 kV), power collection system and communications network. At a substation, this medium-voltage electric current is increased in voltage with a transformer for connection to the high voltage electric power transmission system.

### Generator characteristics and stability

Induction generators, which were often used for wind power projects in the 1980s and 1990s, require reactive power for excitation so substations used in wind-power collection systems include substantial capacitor banks for power factor correction. Different types of wind turbine generators behave differently during transmission grid disturbances, so extensive modelling of the dynamic electromechanical characteristics of a new wind farm is required by transmission system operators to ensure predictable stable behaviour during system faults. In particular, induction generators cannot support the system voltage during faults, unlike steam or hydro turbine-driven synchronous generators.

Today these generators aren't used any more in modern turbines. Instead today most turbines use variable speed generators combined with partial- or full-scale power converter between the turbine generator and the collector system, which generally have more desirable properties for grid interconnection and have Low voltage ride through-capabilities. Modern concepts use either doubly fed machines with partial-scale converters or squirrel-cage induction generators or synchronous generators (both permanently and electrically excited) with full scale converters.[35]

Transmission systems operators will supply a wind farm developer with a grid code to specify the requirements for interconnection to the transmission grid. This will include power factor, constancy of frequency and dynamic behaviour of the wind farm turbines during a system fault.[36][37]

### Offshore wind power

The world's second full-scale floating wind turbine (and first to be installed without the use of heavy-lift vessels), WindFloat, operating at rated capacity (2 MW) approximately 5 km offshore of Póvoa de Varzim, Portugal

Offshore wind power refers to the construction of wind farms in large bodies of water to generate electricity. These installations can utilize the more frequent and powerful winds that are available in these locations and have less aesthetic impact on the landscape than land based projects. However, the construction and the maintenance costs are considerably higher.[38][39]

Siemens and Vestas are the leading turbine suppliers for offshore wind power. DONG Energy, Vattenfall and E.ON are the leading offshore operators.[40] As of October 2010, 3.16 GW of offshore wind power capacity was operational, mainly in Northern Europe. According to BTM Consult, more than 16 GW of additional capacity will be installed before the end of 2014 and the UK and Germany will become the two leading markets. Offshore wind power capacity is expected to reach a total of 75 GW worldwide by 2020, with significant contributions from China and the US.[40]

At the end of 2012, 1,662 turbines at 55 offshore wind farms in 10 European countries are generating 18 TWh, which can power almost five million households.[41] As of August 2013 the London Array in the United Kingdom is the largest offshore wind farm in the world at 630 MW. This is followed by Gwynt y Môr (576 MW), also in the UK.[42]

World's largest offshore wind farms
Wind farm Capacity (MW) Country Turbines and model Commissioned Refs
London Array 630  United Kingdom 175 × Siemens SWT-3.6 2012 [43][44][45]
Gwynt y Môr 576  United Kingdom 160 × Siemens SWT-3.6 107 2015 [42]
Greater Gabbard 504  United Kingdom 140 × Siemens SWT-3.6 2012 [46]
Anholt 400  Denmark 111 × Siemens SWT-3.6–120 2013 [47]
BARD Offshore 1 400  Germany 80 BARD 5.0 turbines 2013 [48]

### Collection and transmission network

In a wind farm, individual turbines are interconnected with a medium voltage (usually 34.5 kV) power collection system and communications network. At a substation, this medium-voltage electric current is increased in voltage with a transformer for connection to the high voltage electric power transmission system.

A transmission line is required to bring the generated power to (often remote) markets. For an off-shore plant this may require a submarine cable. Construction of a new high-voltage line may be too costly for the wind resource alone, but wind sites may take advantage of lines installed for conventionally fueled generation.

One of the biggest current challenges to wind power grid integration in the United States is the necessity of developing new transmission lines to carry power from wind farms, usually in remote lowly populated states in the middle of the country due to availability of wind, to high load locations, usually on the coasts where population density is higher. The current transmission lines in remote locations were not designed for the transport of large amounts of energy.[49] As transmission lines become longer the losses associated with power transmission increase, as modes of losses at lower lengths are exacerbated and new modes of losses are no longer negligible as the length is increased, making it harder transport large loads over large distances.[50] However, resistance from state and local governments makes it difficult to construct new transmission lines. Multi state power transmission projects are discouraged by states with cheap electricity rates for fear that exporting their cheap power will lead to increased rates. A 2005 energy law gave the Energy Department authority to approve transmission projects states refused to act on, but after an attempt to use this authority, the Senate declared the department was being overly aggressive in doing so.[49] Another problem is that wind companies find out after the fact that the transmission capacity of a new farm is below the generation capacity, largely because federal utility rules to encourage renewable energy installation allow feeder lines to meet only minimum standards. These are important issues that need to be solved, as when the transmission capacity does not meet the generation capacity, wind farms are forced to produce below their full potential or stop running all together, in a process known as curtailment. While this leads to potential renewable generation left untapped, it prevents possible grid overload or risk to reliable service.[51]

## Wind power capacity and production

Worldwide wind generation up to 2012 (Source EIA, January 2015).[52]
10,000
20,000
30,000
40,000
50,000
60,000
1998
2002
2006
2010
2014
Global annual new installed wind capacity 1997–2014 (in MW)[17]:3

Worldwide there are now over two hundred thousand wind turbines operating, with a total nameplate capacity of 282,482 MW as of end 2012.[53] The European Union alone passed some 100,000 MW nameplate capacity in September 2012,[54] while the United States surpassed 50,000 MW in August 2012 and China's grid connected capacity passed 50,000 MW the same month.[55][56]

World wind generation capacity more than quadrupled between 2000 and 2006, doubling about every three years. The United States pioneered wind farms and led the world in installed capacity in the 1980s and into the 1990s. In 1997 installed capacity in Germany surpassed the U.S. and led until once again overtaken by the U.S. in 2008. China has been rapidly expanding its wind installations in the late 2000s and passed the U.S. in 2010 to become the world leader. As of 2011, 83 countries around the world were using wind power on a commercial basis.[16]

Wind power capacity has expanded rapidly to 336 GW in June 2014, and wind energy production was around 4% of total worldwide electricity usage, and growing rapidly.[18] The actual amount of electricity that wind is able to generate is calculated by multiplying the nameplate capacity by the capacity factor, which varies according to equipment and location. Estimates of the capacity factors for wind installations are in the range of 35% to 44%.[57]

Europe accounted for 48% of the world total wind power generation capacity in 2009. In 2010, Spain became Europe's leading producer of wind energy, achieving 42,976 GWh. Germany held the top spot in Europe in terms of installed capacity, with a total of 27,215 MW as of 31 December 2010.[58]

•   China: 23,351 MW (45.4%)
•   Germany: 5,279 MW (10.3%)
•   United States: 4,854 MW (9.4%)
•   Brazil: 2,472 MW (4.8%)
•   India: 2,315 MW (4.5%)
•   Canada: 1,871 MW (3.6%)
•   United Kingdom: 1,736 MW (3.4%)
•   Sweden: 1,050 MW (2.0%)
•   France: 1,042 MW (2.0%)
•   Turkey: 804 MW (1.6%)
•   Rest of the world: 6,702 MW (13.0%)
Worldwide new installed capacity, 2014[17]
•   China: 114,763 MW (31.1%)
•   United States: 65,879 MW (17.8%)
•   Germany: 39,165 MW (10.6%)
•   Spain: 22,987 MW (6.2%)
•   India: 22,465 MW (6.1%)
•   United Kingdom: 12,440 MW (3.4%)
•   Canada: 9,694 MW (2.6%)
•   France: 9,285 MW (2.5%)
•   Italy: 8,663 MW (2.3%)
•   Brazil: 5,939 MW (1.6%)
•   Rest of the world: 58,275 MW (15.8%)
Worldwide cumulative capacity, 2014[17]
Top windpower electricity producing countries in 2012 (TWh)
Country Windpower Production % of World Total
United States 140.9 26.4
China 118.1 22.1
Spain 49.1 9.2
Germany 46.0 8.6
India 30.0 5.6
United Kingdom 19.6 3.7
France 14.9 2.8
Italy 13.4 2.5
Denmark 10.3 1.9
(rest of world) 80.2 15.0
World Total 534.3 TWh 100%
Source:Observ'ER – Electricity Production From Wind Sources[59]

### Growth trends

Worldwide installed wind power capacity forecast (Source: Global Wind Energy Council)[1][60]

In 2010, more than half of all new wind power was added outside of the traditional markets in Europe and North America. This was largely from new construction in China, which accounted for nearly half the new wind installations (16.5 GW).[61]

Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) figures show that 2007 recorded an increase of installed capacity of 20 GW, taking the total installed wind energy capacity to 94 GW, up from 74 GW in 2006. Despite constraints facing supply chains for wind turbines, the annual market for wind continued to increase at an estimated rate of 37%, following 32% growth in 2006. In terms of economic value, the wind energy sector has become one of the important players in the energy markets, with the total value of new generating equipment installed in 2007 reaching €25 billion, or US$36 billion.[62] Although the wind power industry was affected by the global financial crisis in 2009 and 2010, a BTM Consult five-year forecast up to 2013 projects substantial growth. Over the past five years the average growth in new installations has been 27.6% each year. In the forecast to 2013 the expected average annual growth rate is 15.7%.[63][64] More than 200 GW of new wind power capacity could come on line before the end of 2014. Wind power market penetration is expected to reach 3.35% by 2013 and 8% by 2018.[63][64] In 2013 wind power constituted 13% of installed power generation capacity in the EU and generated 7.8% of power used[65] ### Capacity factor Since wind speed is not constant, a wind farm's annual energy production is never as much as the sum of the generator nameplate ratings multiplied by the total hours in a year. The ratio of actual productivity in a year to this theoretical maximum is called the capacity factor. Typical capacity factors are 15–50%; values at the upper end of the range are achieved in favourable sites and are due to wind turbine design improvements.[66][67][nb 1] Online data is available for some locations, and the capacity factor can be calculated from the yearly output.[68][69] For example, the German nationwide average wind power capacity factor over all of 2012 was just under 17.5% (45867 GW·h/yr / (29.9 GW × 24 × 366) = 0.1746),[70] and the capacity factor for Scottish wind farms averaged 24% between 2008 and 2010.[71] Unlike fueled generating plants, the capacity factor is affected by several parameters, including the variability of the wind at the site and the size of the generator relative to the turbine's swept area. A small generator would be cheaper and achieve a higher capacity factor but would produce less electricity (and thus less profit) in high winds. Conversely, a large generator would cost more but generate little extra power and, depending on the type, may stall out at low wind speed. Thus an optimum capacity factor of around 40–50% would be aimed for.[67][72] A 2008 study released by the U.S. Department of Energy noted that the capacity factor of new wind installations was increasing as the technology improves, and projected further improvements for future capacity factors.[73] In 2010, the department estimated the capacity factor of new wind turbines in 2010 to be 45%.[74] The annual average capacity factor for wind generation in the US has varied between 28.1% and 32.3% during the period 2008–2013.[75] ### Penetration Country Penetration [76] 39% Portugal (2011)[77] 19% Spain (2011)[78] 16% Ireland (2012)[79] 16% United Kingdom (2014)[80] 9.3% Germany (2011)[81] 8% United States (2013)[82] 4.5% Wind energy penetration refers to the fraction of energy produced by wind compared with the total generation. There is no generally accepted maximum level of wind penetration. The limit for a particular grid will depend on the existing generating plants, pricing mechanisms, capacity for energy storage, demand management and other factors. An interconnected electricity grid will already include reserve generating and transmission capacity to allow for equipment failures. This reserve capacity can also serve to compensate for the varying power generation produced by wind stations. Studies have indicated that 20% of the total annual electrical energy consumption may be incorporated with minimal difficulty.[83] These studies have been for locations with geographically dispersed wind farms, some degree of dispatchable energy or hydropower with storage capacity, demand management, and interconnected to a large grid area enabling the export of electricity when needed. Beyond the 20% level, there are few technical limits, but the economic implications become more significant. Electrical utilities continue to study the effects of large scale penetration of wind generation on system stability and economics.[84][85][86][87] A wind energy penetration figure can be specified for different durations of time, but is often quoted annually. To obtain 100% from wind annually requires substantial long term storage or substantial interconnection to other systems which may already have substantial storage. On a monthly, weekly, daily, or hourly basis—or less—wind might supply as much as or more than 100% of current use, with the rest stored or exported. Seasonal industry might then take advantage of high wind and low usage times such as at night when wind output can exceed normal demand. Such industry might include production of silicon, aluminum,[88] steel, or of natural gas, and hydrogen, and using future long term storage to facilitate 100% energy from variable renewable energy.[89][90] Homes can also be programmed to accept extra electricity on demand, for example by remotely turning up water heater thermostats.[91] In Australia, the state of South Australia generates around half of the nation's wind power capacity. By the end of 2011 wind power in South Australia, championed by Premier (and Climate Change Minister) Mike Rann, reached 26% of the State's electricity generation, edging out coal for the first time.[92] At this stage South Australia, with only 7.2% of Australia's population, had 54% of Australia's installed capacity.[78][92] ### Variability Windmills are typically installed in favourable windy locations. In the image, wind power generators in Spain, near an Osborne bull. Electricity generated from wind power can be highly variable at several different timescales: hourly, daily, or seasonally. Annual variation also exists, but is not as significant. Because instantaneous electrical generation and consumption must remain in balance to maintain grid stability, this variability can present substantial challenges to incorporating large amounts of wind power into a grid system. Intermittency and the non-dispatchable nature of wind energy production can raise costs for regulation, incremental operating reserve, and (at high penetration levels) could require an increase in the already existing energy demand management, load shedding, storage solutions or system interconnection with HVDC cables. Fluctuations in load and allowance for failure of large fossil-fuel generating units require reserve capacity that can also compensate for variability of wind generation. Increase in system operation costs, Euros per MWh, for 10% & 20% wind share[7] Country 10% 20% Germany 2.5 3.2 Denmark 0.4 0.8 Finland 0.3 1.5 Norway 0.1 0.3 Sweden 0.3 0.7 Wind power is variable, and during low wind periods it must be replaced by other power sources. Transmission networks presently cope with outages of other generation plants and daily changes in electrical demand, but the variability of intermittent power sources such as wind power, are unlike those of conventional power generation plants which, when scheduled to be operating, may be able to deliver their nameplate capacity around 95% of the time. Presently, grid systems with large wind penetration require a small increase in the frequency of usage of natural gas spinning reserve power plants to prevent a loss of electricity in the event that conditions are not favorable for power production from the wind. At lower wind power grid penetration, this is less of an issue.[93][94][95] GE has installed a prototype wind turbine with onboard battery similar to that of an electric car, equivalent of 1 minute of production. Despite the small capacity, it is enough to guarantee that power output complies with forecast for 15 minutes, as the battery is used to eliminate the difference rather than provide full output. The increased predictability can be used to take wind power penetration from 20 to 30 or 40 per cent. The battery cost can be retrieved by selling burst power on demand and reducing backup needs from gas plants.[96] A report on Denmark's wind power noted that their wind power network provided less than 1% of average demand on 54 days during the year 2002.[97] Wind power advocates argue that these periods of low wind can be dealt with by simply restarting existing power stations that have been held in readiness, or interlinking with HVDC.[98] Electrical grids with slow-responding thermal power plants and without ties to networks with hydroelectric generation may have to limit the use of wind power.[97] According to a 2007 Stanford University study published in the Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology, interconnecting ten or more wind farms can allow an average of 33% of the total energy produced (i.e. about 8% of total nameplate capacity) to be used as reliable, baseload electric power which can be relied on to handle peak loads, as long as minimum criteria are met for wind speed and turbine height.[99][100] Conversely, on particularly windy days, even with penetration levels of 16%, wind power generation can surpass all other electricity sources in a country. In Spain, in the early hours of 16 April 2012 wind power production reached the highest percentage of electricity production till then, at 60.46% of the total demand.[101] In Denmark, which had power market penetration of 30% in 2013, over 90 hours, wind power generated 100% of the country's power, peaking at 122% of the country's demand at 2 am on 28 October.[102] A 2006 International Energy Agency forum presented costs for managing intermittency as a function of wind-energy's share of total capacity for several countries, as shown in the table on the right. Three reports on the wind variability in the UK issued in 2009, generally agree that variability of wind needs to be taken into account, but it does not make the grid unmanageable. The additional costs, which are modest, can be quantified.[8] The combination of diversifying variable renewables by type and location, forecasting their variation, and integrating them with dispatchable renewables, flexible fueled generators, and demand response can create a power system that has the potential to meet power supply needs reliably. Integrating ever-higher levels of renewables is being successfully demonstrated in the real world:[103] In 2009, eight American and three European authorities, writing in the leading electrical engineers' professional journal, didn't find "a credible and firm technical limit to the amount of wind energy that can be accommodated by electricity grids". In fact, not one of more than 200 international studies, nor official studies for the eastern and western U.S. regions, nor the International Energy Agency, has found major costs or technical barriers to reliably integrating up to 30% variable renewable supplies into the grid, and in some studies much more. – Reinventing Fire[103] Solar power tends to be complementary to wind.[104][105] On daily to weekly timescales, high pressure areas tend to bring clear skies and low surface winds, whereas low pressure areas tend to be windier and cloudier. On seasonal timescales, solar energy peaks in summer, whereas in many areas wind energy is lower in summer and higher in winter.[nb 2][106] Thus the intermittencies of wind and solar power tend to cancel each other somewhat. In 2007 the Institute for Solar Energy Supply Technology of the University of Kassel pilot-tested a combined power plant linking solar, wind, biogas and hydrostorage to provide load-following power around the clock and throughout the year, entirely from renewable sources.[107] ### Predictability Wind power forecasting methods are used, but predictability of any particular wind farm is low for short-term operation. For any particular generator there is an 80% chance that wind output will change less than 10% in an hour and a 40% chance that it will change 10% or more in 5 hours.[108] However, studies by Graham Sinden (2009) suggest that, in practice, the variations in thousands of wind turbines, spread out over several different sites and wind regimes, are smoothed. As the distance between sites increases, the correlation between wind speeds measured at those sites, decreases.[109] Thus, while the output from a single turbine can vary greatly and rapidly as local wind speeds vary, as more turbines are connected over larger and larger areas the average power output becomes less variable and more predictable.[13][110] Wind power hardly ever suffers major technical failures, since failures of individual wind turbines have hardly any effect on overall power, so that the distributed wind power is reliable and predictable,[111] whereas conventional generators, while far less variable, can suffer major unpredictable outages. ### Energy storage Main article: Grid energy storage. See also: List of energy storage projects. The Sir Adam Beck Generating Complex at Niagara Falls, Canada, includes a large pumped-storage hydroelectricity reservoir. During hours of low electrical demand excess electrical grid power is used to pump water up into the reservoir, which then provides an extra 174 MW of electricity during periods of peak demand. Typically, conventional hydroelectricity complements wind power very well. When the wind is blowing strongly, nearby hydroelectric stations can temporarily hold back their water. When the wind drops they can, provided they have the generation capacity, rapidly increase production to compensate. This gives a very even overall power supply and virtually no loss of energy and uses no more water. Alternatively, where a suitable head of water is not available, pumped-storage hydroelectricity or other forms of grid energy storage such as compressed air energy storage and thermal energy storage can store energy developed by high-wind periods and release it when needed.[112] The type of storage needed depends on the wind penetration level – low penetration requires daily storage, and high penetration requires both short and long term storage – as long as a month or more. Stored energy increases the economic value of wind energy since it can be shifted to displace higher cost generation during peak demand periods. The potential revenue from this arbitrage can offset the cost and losses of storage; the cost of storage may add 25% to the cost of any wind energy stored but it is not envisaged that this would apply to a large proportion of wind energy generated. For example, in the UK, the 1.7 GW Dinorwig pumped-storage plant evens out electrical demand peaks, and allows base-load suppliers to run their plants more efficiently. Although pumped-storage power systems are only about 75% efficient, and have high installation costs, their low running costs and ability to reduce the required electrical base-load can save both fuel and total electrical generation costs.[113][114] In particular geographic regions, peak wind speeds may not coincide with peak demand for electrical power. In the U.S. states of California and Texas, for example, hot days in summer may have low wind speed and high electrical demand due to the use of air conditioning. Some utilities subsidize the purchase of geothermal heat pumps by their customers, to reduce electricity demand during the summer months by making air conditioning up to 70% more efficient;[115] widespread adoption of this technology would better match electricity demand to wind availability in areas with hot summers and low summer winds. A possible future option may be to interconnect widely dispersed geographic areas with an HVDC "super grid". In the U.S. it is estimated that to upgrade the transmission system to take in planned or potential renewables would cost at least$60 billion,[116] while the society value of added windpower would be more than that cost.[82]

Germany has an installed capacity of wind and solar that can exceed daily demand, and has been exporting peak power to neighboring countries, with exports which amounted to some 14.7 billion kilowatt hours in 2012.[117] A more practical solution is the installation of thirty days storage capacity able to supply 80% of demand, which will become necessary when most of Europe's energy is obtained from wind power and solar power. Just as the EU requires member countries to maintain 90 days strategic reserves of oil it can be expected that countries will provide electricity storage, instead of expecting to use their neighbors for net metering.[118]

### Capacity credit, fuel savings and energy payback

The capacity credit of wind is estimated by determining the capacity of conventional plants displaced by wind power, whilst maintaining the same degree of system security.[119] However, the precise value is irrelevant since the main value of wind is its fuel and CO2 savings, and wind is not expected to be constantly available.[120]

The energy needed to build a wind farm divided into the total output over its life, Energy Return on Energy Invested, of wind power varies but averages about 20–25.[121] Thus, the energy payback time is typically around one year.

## Economics

Wind turbines reached grid parity (the point at which the cost of wind power matches traditional sources) in some areas of Europe in the mid-2000s, and in the US around the same time. Falling prices continue to drive the levelized cost down and it has been suggested that it has reached general grid parity in Europe in 2010, and will reach the same point in the US around 2016 due to an expected reduction in capital costs of about 12%.[122]

### Electricity cost and trends

Estimated cost per MWh for wind power in Denmark
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory projects that the levelized cost of wind power in the U.S. will decline about 25% from 2012 to 2030.[123]
A turbine blade convoy passing through Edenfield in the U.K. (2008). Even longer two-piece blades are now manufactured, and then assembled on-site to reduce difficulties in transportation.

Wind power is capital intensive, but has no fuel costs.[124] The price of wind power is therefore much more stable than the volatile prices of fossil fuel sources.[125] The marginal cost of wind energy once a station is constructed is usually less than 1-cent per kW·h.[126]

However, the estimated average cost per unit of electricity must incorporate the cost of construction of the turbine and transmission facilities, borrowed funds, return to investors (including cost of risk), estimated annual production, and other components, averaged over the projected useful life of the equipment, which may be in excess of twenty years. Energy cost estimates are highly dependent on these assumptions so published cost figures can differ substantially. In 2004, wind energy cost a fifth of what it did in the 1980s, and some expected that downward trend to continue as larger multi-megawatt turbines were mass-produced.[127] As of 2012 capital costs for wind turbines are substantially lower than 2008–2010 but are still above 2002 levels.[128] A 2011 report from the American Wind Energy Association stated, "Wind's costs have dropped over the past two years, in the range of 5 to 6 cents per kilowatt-hour recently.... about 2 cents cheaper than coal-fired electricity, and more projects were financed through debt arrangements than tax equity structures last year.... winning more mainstream acceptance from Wall Street's banks.... Equipment makers can also deliver products in the same year that they are ordered instead of waiting up to three years as was the case in previous cycles.... 5,600 MW of new installed capacity is under construction in the United States, more than double the number at this point in 2010. Thirty-five percent of all new power generation built in the United States since 2005 has come from wind, more than new gas and coal plants combined, as power providers are increasingly enticed to wind as a convenient hedge against unpredictable commodity price moves."[129]

A British Wind Energy Association report gives an average generation cost of onshore wind power of around 3.2 pence (between US 5 and 6 cents) per kW·h (2005).[130] Cost per unit of energy produced was estimated in 2006 to be 5 to 6 percent above the cost of new generating capacity in the US for coal and natural gas: wind cost was estimated at $55.80 per MW·h, coal at$53.10/MW·h and natural gas at $52.50.[131] Similar comparative results with natural gas were obtained in a governmental study in the UK in 2011.[132] In 2011 power from wind turbines could be already cheaper than fossil or nuclear plants; it is also expected that wind power will be the cheapest form of energy generation in the future.[133] The presence of wind energy, even when subsidised, can reduce costs for consumers (€5 billion/yr in Germany) by reducing the marginal price, by minimising the use of expensive peaking power plants.[134] In February 2013 Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) reported that the cost of generating electricity from new wind farms is cheaper than new coal or new baseload gas plants. When including the current Australian federal government carbon pricing scheme their modeling gives costs (in Australian dollars) of$80/MWh for new wind farms, $143/MWh for new coal plants and$116/MWh for new baseload gas plants. The modeling also shows that "even without a carbon price (the most efficient way to reduce economy-wide emissions) wind energy is 14% cheaper than new coal and 18% cheaper than new gas."[135] Part of the higher costs for new coal plants is due to high financial lending costs because of "the reputational damage of emissions-intensive investments". The expense of gas fired plants is partly due to "export market" effects on local prices. Costs of production from coal fired plants built in "the 1970s and 1980s" are cheaper than renewable energy sources because of depreciation.[135] In 2015 BNEF calculated LCOE prices per MWh energy in new powerplants (excluding carbon costs) : $85 for onshore wind ($175 for offshore), $66–75 for coal in the Americas ($82–105 in Europe), gas $80–100.[136][137][138] An EU study shows base cost of onshore wind power similar to coal, when subsidies and externalities are disregarded. Wind power has some of the lowest external costs.[139] This cost has additionally reduced as wind turbine technology has improved. There are now longer and lighter wind turbine blades, improvements in turbine performance and increased power generation efficiency. Also, wind project capital and maintenance costs have continued to decline.[140] For example, the wind industry in the USA as of early 2014 is able to produce more power at lower cost by using taller wind turbines with longer blades, capturing the faster winds at higher elevations. This has opened up new opportunities and in Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio, the price of power from wind turbines built 300 feet to 400 feet above the ground can now compete with conventional fossil fuels like coal. Prices have fallen to about 4 cents per kilowatt-hour in some cases and utilities have been increasing the amount of wind energy in their portfolio, saying it is their cheapest option.[141] A number of initiatives are working to reduce costs of electricity from offshore wind. One example is the Carbon Trust Offshore Wind Accelerator, a joint industry project, involving nine offshore wind developers, which aims to reduce the cost of offshore wind by 10% by 2015. It has been suggested that innovation at scale could deliver 25% cost reduction in offshore wind by 2020.[142] Henrik Stiesdal, former Chief Technical Officer at Siemens Wind Power, has stated that by 2025 energy from offshore wind will be one of the cheapest, scalable solutions in the UK, compared to other renewables and fossil fuel energy sources, if the true cost to society is factored into the cost of energy equation.[143] He calculates the cost at that time to be 43 EUR/MWh for onshore, and 72 EUR/MWh for offshore wind.[144] ### Incentives and community benefits U.S. landowners typically receive$3,000–\$5,000 annual rental income per wind turbine, while farmers continue to grow crops or graze cattle up to the foot of the turbines.[145] Shown: the Brazos Wind Farm, Texas.
Some of the 6,000 turbines in California's Altamont Pass Wind Farm aided by tax incentives during the 1980s.[146]

The U.S. wind industry generates tens of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars of economic activity.[147] Wind projects provide local taxes, or payments in lieu of taxes and strengthen the economy of rural communities by providing income to farmers with wind turbines on their land.[145][148] Wind energy in many jurisdictions receives financial or other support to encourage its development. Wind energy benefits from subsidies in many jurisdictions, either to increase its attractiveness, or to compensate for subsidies received by other forms of production which have significant negative externalities.

In the US, wind power receives a production tax credit (PTC) of 1.5¢/kWh in 1993 dollars for each kW·h produced, for the first ten years; at 2.2 cents per kW·h in 2012, the credit was renewed on 2 January 2012, to include construction begun in 2013.[149] A 30% tax credit can be applied instead of receiving the PTC.[150][151] Another tax benefit is accelerated depreciation. Many American states also provide incentives, such as exemption from property tax, mandated purchases, and additional markets for "green credits".[152] The Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008 contains extensions of credits for wind, including microturbines. Countries such as Canada and Germany also provide incentives for wind turbine construction, such as tax credits or minimum purchase prices for wind generation, with assured grid access (sometimes referred to as feed-in tariffs). These feed-in tariffs are typically set well above average electricity prices.[153][154] In December 2013 U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander and other Republican senators argued that the "wind energy production tax credit should be allowed to expire at the end of 2013"[155] and it expired 1 January 2014 for new installations.

Secondary market forces also provide incentives for businesses to use wind-generated power, even if there is a

• World Wind Energy Association (WWEA)
• Tethys – an online knowledge management system that provides the offshore wind community with access to information and scientific literature on the environmental effects of offshore wind developments