The True Cost of Electricity from Wind Power and Windmill “Availability” Factors

Note that this paper focuses on the true cost of producing and delivering electricity from wind and not on the price paid when a utility buys electricity from a "wind farm." This latter number will often have no relationship to the true cost because of the extensive subsidies available to “wind farm” developers and owners. In fact, in the early years of a “wind farm’s” operation the value of tax breaks and subsidies generally will exceed substantially the income that a “wind farm” owner will receive from the sale of electricity!


Do you have a simple one-page analysis of the current cost of wind power, before and after tax
subsidies, and the availability factors of most windmills?


The short answer is “No.” In fact, it will take:

• Several pages to identify and describe the many elements of the full, true cost of electricity
from wind (the relative importance of the elements varies widely.), and
• Another 2 pages to explain why “availability” factors are meaningless when talking about
windmills, and why “capacity” factors are more important but still limited in value.

However, the questions are good ones because:

• The information on the cost of electricity from wind power that is distributed by all of the
following groups is grossly incomplete and misleading:
• US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.
• DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).
• The wind industry and its Washington-based trade association and lobbyists.
• Information distributed by the same organizations about wind turbine “availability” is

To help answer your question, this paper will identify the many elements of the full, true cost of
electricity from wind energy, including the elements of true cost that the above organizations like
to ignore. It will also explain why the “availability” of wind turbines is meaningless.

While this paper does NOT provide the specific answer you are looking for, it may prove helpful
to many people around the US (as well as Europe, Australia and New Zealand) who are trying to
learn the truth about the cost of electricity from wind energy.

1 Costof Electricityfrom Wind030703

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APR 7 2003
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