Green Living

How much does it cost to generate wind power?
Answered by Science Channel
  • Science Channel

    Science Channel

  1. What could be more cost-effective than capturing something nature kicks up for free? Wind power is gaining in popularity around the globe and in the United States, largely because of the low cost of producing this renewable resource. Wind power is very inexpensive compared with electricity produced by burning coal. In 2006, the average cost for coal-burning electricity was 10.4 cents per kilowatt hour [source: Energy Information Administration] whereas wind-generated electricity costs about 3 cents per kilowatt hour to produce [source: Earth Policy Institute]. As wind installations continue and the price of oil continues to rise, the value of wind energy only stands to improve.

    From 2006 through 2010, wind provided 35 percent of all new power capacity in the United States, so community power providers are taking note [source: American Wind Energy Association]. Although there is some cost to installing wind turbines, the projects also produce jobs in the areas that install them -- often rural areas, where the turbines can be placed to receive the best possible wind advantage.

    There is some resistance to investing in wind technology, partly because of installation costs, and partly because some people reject the look of the turbines -- which can rise to more than 100 feet (30 meters) in height. There have been complaints about the turbines killing birds. An initiative proposed in 2011 by President Barack Obama to develop a large wind farm with 338 turbines in Oregon that would produce energy and create jobs received objections based on concerns about radar interference [source: Eilperin]. 

    Still, a study from Georgia Tech and Duke University found that if the Southeast would invest in renewable energy today, with wind as its most competitive energy source, the region could save about $23 billion by 2030 in energy costs [source: Power of Wind]. Offshore wind creates more challenges, but also solves some problems and offers some of the most accessible free energy in the world.

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