Technology advancement

Report Highlights Technological Advancements and Value of Wind Power

Wind energy continues to experience strong growth, solid performance and attractive prices in the United States, according to a report published by the United States Department of Energy (DOE) and prepared by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab). With discounted costs of just over $30 per megawatt-hour (MWh) for newly built projects, the cost of wind is well below its benefits to the grid system, health, and climate.

“Wind power prices – particularly in the mid-US, and supported by federal tax incentives – remain low even with continued pressures from supply chain, utilities and corporate buyers. choosing wind as a low-cost option,” said Ryan Wiser, a senior energy technology researcher at the Berkeley Lab. “Given the health and climate benefits of wind power, the economy is even better,” he added.

Key findings from the DOE’s annual onshore wind market report include:

Wind power represents a growing share of electricity supply. US wind capacity grew at a healthy pace in 2021, with 13.4 gigawatts (GW) of new capacity added, representing a $20 billion investment and 32% of all capacity additions in the USA. Wind power generation has increased to account for more than 9% of the nation’s electricity supply. At least 247 GW of wind seek to access the transmission network; 77 GW of this capacity is offshore wind power and 19 GW is hybrid power plants that couple wind power with energy storage or solar power.

• The performance of wind projects has increased over the decades. The average capacity factor (a measure of project performance) among recently completed projects was almost 40%, considerably higher than projects built earlier. The highest capacity factors are observed within the country.

• Turbines continue to grow. Improved plant performance was driven by larger turbines mounted on taller towers and featuring longer blades. In 2011, no turbine used blades 115 meters or more in diameter, but by 2021, 89% of newly installed turbines had such rotors. The proposed plans indicate that the overall height of the turbine will continue to increase.

• Low wind turbine prices have driven down the costs of projects installed over the past decade. Wind turbine prices averaged between $800 and $950/kilowatt (kW) in 2021, an increase of 5% to 10% from the previous year, but significantly lower than in 2010. The average cost installed wind projects in 2021 was $1,500/kW, down more than 40% from the 2010 peak, but stable in recent years. The lowest costs were found in Texas.

• Wind energy prices have increased, but remain low, around $20/MWh in the country’s inland “wind belt”. After peaking at $75/MWh for power purchase agreements signed in 2009, the national average wind price has fallen, although supply chain pressures have driven prices higher in recent years. years. In the country’s inland “wind belt”, recent prices are around $20/MWh. In the West and East, prices tend to average above $30/MWh. These prices, which are possible in part due to federal tax support, are lower than the expected future fuel costs of gas-fired generation.

• Wind prices are often attractive relative to the market value of the wind grid system. The value of wind energy sold in wholesale electricity markets is affected by the location of wind power plants, their hourly generation profiles, and how these characteristics correlate with real-time electricity prices. and capacity markets. The market value of wind increased in 2021 and varied by region from under $20/MWh to over $40/MWh, a range roughly consistent with recent wind energy prices.

• The average levelized cost of wind energy was $32/MWh for plants built in 2021. Levelized costs vary by time and geography, but the national average was $32/MWh in 2021, a substantial drop from history, though consistent with the previous three years. (Cost estimates do not take into account the effect of federal wind tax incentives.)

• The health and climate benefits of wind in 2021 were greater than its value to the grid system, and the combination of the three far exceeds the current levelized cost of wind. Wind generation reduces emissions of carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide from the electricity sector. These reductions, in turn, provide public health and climate benefits that vary by region, but which together are economically valued at an average of over $90/MWh of wind energy for plants built in 2021.

Berkeley Lab’s contributions to this report were funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Wind Energy Technologies.