This is way off topic for my normal posts which are usually about Identity Management and Information Technology but I have been interested in learning more about wind power (as an energy source) for some time. While I still do not have an understanding of how the cost compare to other energy sources but I was curious enough today to do a little (unscientific) research and try and figure out what the cost of wind power for the United States would be.
This study is not meant for anything else but to try and wrap my head around the costs. I don’t take into consideration the fact that some areas of the country do not have sufficient wind nor do I take into account areas that all ready utilize wind power. I say this because I am not looking for people to respond with things like, “yeah but area X doesn’t have enough wind” or anything along those lines. I would however invite people to correct my calculations, provide updated information or provide other sources for more information. That being said, here are my calculations:
In terms of wind power 1 mega-watt (MW) is enough power for approximately 225/300 houses/year (http://www.awea.org/faq/wwt_basics.html#How many turbines does it take to make one megawatt (MW)) ( I used the low number for the rest of my calculations ).
Wind turbines are generally available in 700KW and 2.5 MW sizes. A set (farm?) of ten (10) 700 KW turbines produce about 7MW/year or roughly equivalent to 1,575 homes. (remember I am using the low number). A set of ten (10) 2.5 MW turbines produce 25 MW/year or enough electricity for 5,625 homes.
According to the 2008 census (need a fact-check here) there are 112 million homes in the United States (http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080922171135AAc4rXW). Using the larger size turbine, this many homes would required 19,911 units of ten (10) or approximately 119,110 turbines. Now, this is where it became very interesting for me. According to
http://www.windustry.org/how-much-do-wind-turbines-cost the 2MW sized turbines (need more fact checking here) cost approximately $3.5 million installed. One thing to note here is that some of my other sources, which I will provide, refer to a 2.5 MW sized turbine where as www.windustry.org mentions a 2 MW sized turbine. I don’t know what the difference is but I will try to find out. So, based on these numbers for 119,100 turbines at $3.5 million/unit the total cost is some where around $416,885,000,000. That is to install … there is also the maintenance and other related costs.
It will be interesting to compare this with other sources of power and to try and understand the numbers a little more.