I have tried to get, from Texas, detailed information about wind power output. The wind power industry seems to have gotten it declared "secret." Hardly a promising sign that it is delivering what its promoters contend. Others have found the same thing. This posting is from The Energy Collective,
Vendors, owners, financiers often claim “trade secrets”, whereas in reality they want to obfuscate wind power’s shortcomings, a too-generous subsidy deal, or other insider’s advantage. It would be much better for all involved, if there were public hearings and full disclosure regarding the economics of any project receiving government subsidies, to ensure the people’s funds receive the best return on investment.
The Collective did manage to obtain the financials on a university wind power project and several others. Here are the figures from the project at the University of Maine:
Capital Cost and Power Production
Estimated capital cost $1.5 million
Actual capital cost $2 million; an overrun of 33%
The project was financed by UM cash reserves and a $50,000 cash subsidy from the Maine Public Utilities Commission.
Estimated useful service life about 20 years.
Predicted power production 1,000,000 kWh/yr
Predicted capacity factor = 1,000,000 kWh/yr)/(600 kW x 8,760 hr/yr) = 0.190
Actual power production after 1 year 609,250 kWh
Actual capacity factor for 1 year = 609,250 kWh/yr/(600 kW x 8,760 hr/yr) = 0.116; a shortfall of 39%
Value of power produced = 609,250 kWh/yr x $0.125/ kWh = $76,156/yr; if O&M and financing costs amortized over 20 years are subtracted, this value will likely be negative.
Actual power production after 1.5 years 920,105 kWh
Actual capacity factor for 1.5 years = (920,105 kWh/1.5 yrs)/(600 kW x 8,760 hr/yr) = 0.117
Actual capacity 11.7% -- and this is when the turbine was new. There is little doubt the return on investment for this project will be negative. And, this doesn't even include "parasitic power" which would drive the return even lower (please read the posting to understand parasitic power).
The Collective provides several other examples, please read the entire posting. After reading, I believe it is unlikely that you will find much appeal to wind power in most locations.
Interesting, they believe that wind power is economical on the Great Plains. Given the number of broken turbines I have seen in Kansas, I question that -- especially since no figures were given -- but I give the Collective credit for balance and open-mindedness.
As one of the commenters to my original post said,
I like the notion of wind power helping communities and farmers.
I like that notion, too. Unfortunately, we live in the real world where resources are finite and our nation is running up huge deficits. The sooner we get more natural gas and new-generation nuclear power online, the better off both we and the environment will be.
As always, comments are welcome. Please keep them on point.